The NBA All-Star Game usually involves celebrities, full-court alley-oops, superfluous dribble moves, and slightly less attention to defense. The NBA’s best and brightest clown around, enjoying a non-competitive game for the first time all season.
The NBA D-League All-Star Game, however, is a different story. It serves as a national stage for NBA prospects to display their talent. Instead of celebrities in the crowd, there are scouts. While there is an occasional poor offensive turnover or defensive lapse, the athletes generally play like it’s a real game. After all, it’s a great chance to catch the attention of an NBA front office.
Second-year point guard Quinn Cook of the Canton Charge certainly made the most of the opportunity. He was named the MVP of the 2017 All-Star Game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after recording an 18-point, 12-assist double-double. Cook even hit a last-second pull-up jumper to clinch the game and put the icing on the cake.
“I kind of knew it wasn’t just a fun alley-oop, shooting half-court shots [type of] game. It’s another audition,” Cook said after the game. “It’s business. It’s professional. Coach [Jerry] Stackhouse had us ready.”
Cook is trying his best to join former D-League All-Star game MVPs like Gerald Green and Robert Covington in the NBA.
“It’s an honor… being an All-Star. Winning MVP is surreal. I just want to keep this momentum.”
Cook might get that call sooner than later as his All-Star performance punctuates a season in which the 6-5 guard has averaged 26 points and almost 7 assists per game.
NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas even predicted before the game that Cook might win MVP: “I knew the way he came out playing, I saw the bounce in his step.”
As a former score-first point guard, Thomas advocated for Cook to get a shot at the next level. “Bring him up! Bring him up! Call Quinn Cook up to the NBA!”
After Cook was presented with the MVP trophy, he expressed his gratitude to Thomas.
“I know Isiah because I came up to him when I was young and I told him how much I idolized him,” Cook said. “We have a great relationship so for him to be here and show me some love like that means the world [to me].”
Add Thomas to the list of former and current star players supporting Cook’s NBA aspirations, such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and John Wall.
Asked on his plans to celebrate his newest award, Cook, who was the D-League’s Rookie of the Year last season, said he’ll probably get dinner with his teammates: “Yeah, they’re buying it for me.”