Mustafa Shakur was the only Tulsa 66er selected to the NBA D-League All-Star Game that was played Saturday afternoon. Shakur represented well, with 10 points (shooting 4-for-6 from the field), four rebounds, four assists, and a game-high four steals.
I had the chance to talk to Shakur before All-Star weekend and asked him about what he expected in Dallas, as well as his thoughts on the 66ers’ season so far. Tulsa entered the All-Star break at 16-14 and 6.5 games behind West Conference leader Rio Grande Valley.
Kevin Henry: So what were your thoughts when you heard you had been selected to the All-Star team?
Mustafa Shakur: I was really excited. It’s such an honor to be selected by the coaches and fans. I thought I had played myself into the game, but as it got closer and closer to nomination announcement time, I started getting a little nervous. Tulsa has provided a great opportunity for me, and the coaching staff and my teammates have supported me all season.
Henry: Is point guard the best position to play in an All-Star game?
Shakur: It’s always easier for point guards and guys who run the floor to get baskets in an All-Star game. Yeah, I think it’s a little easier for guards. I played in McDonald’s and Adidas All-Star Games, and I remember it being just a fun experience.
Henry: You’ve had a solid season so far (19.8 points and 6.7 assists per game). We’ve talked a couple of times this season and you’ve always told me you’re not looking to score but rather to create. Yet you’re the team’s leading scorer.
Shakur: If the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to score. I’m not always looking for the basket but if I drive and the other guys are covered, I’m going to take a shot.
Henry: Did the All-Star break come at the right time for Tulsa?
Shakur: Absolutely. It was the perfect time. We have a lot of guys banged up right now (Cecil Brown and Deron Washington are nursing foot/ankle injuries while DeVon Hardin is being worked back into the rotation slowly after his injury). I think we’re going to come out of the break rejuvenated and ready to make a second-half push.
Henry: Was it hard on you as the point guard and team’s floor leader toward the end of the first half with all of the injuries and roster changes?
Shakur: I think it taught me of a level of professionalism that I needed to have. Guys are going to change and get injuries in the D-League, just like they do in the NBA. You have to adjust on the fly, and that’s something that we’ve had to do this season.
Henry: What are you looking for in the second half of the season?
Shakur: I think we need to take things one game at a time. We have some big games in the second half, but we can’t look past any of them right now.
(Also, here’s a little video from Dallas of me talking to Shakur after the D-League All-Star Game. – Royce)