Al Named Third-Team All-NBA

Al Named Third-Team All-NBA

When the Charlotte Bobcats launched the Big Al’s Paint marketing blitz, campaigning for Al Jefferson’s spot on the All-NBA team, the soft-spoken center thought it was all a little crazy.

But after being named to the All-NBA Third Team for the first time in his career on Wednesday, Big Al was happy to embrace his new identity as a master of paint both on and off the court.

“It’s been a big hit,” Al said of the successful campaign. “Everywhere I go people always talk about how I have a second career now in the paint business. When I go home, people ask me if I can paint their house. It really was a big hit. I really got a big kick out of it and I think the fans got a big kick out of it. And it paid off too.”

No. 25 proudly held the newest product in the Big Al’s Paint line: the “All-NBA” edition featuring the new Charlotte Hornets logo. And with that paint can in hand, he delivered a special thank you to the team and its fervent fan base.

“It was really big to see the team and the fans get behind me to support me and make this all come true,” he said.

Al was joined on the third team by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George, Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic and Portland Trailblazers duo Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Charlotte Bobcats v San Antonio Spurs

He earned four first-team votes, tying George for the most on the third team. Two centers—Chicago’s Joakim Noah and Houston’s Dwight Howard—garnered more votes than Al at his position.

In total, just four Eastern Conference players—Big Al, Noah, George and Miami’s LeBron James—earned one of the 15 All-NBA honors.

A panel of 125 media members voted on the All-NBA teams, and Al earned 191 total points, including the four first-team votes. The Prentiss, Miss. native identified it as one of the biggest milestones of his career, but noted that this is just the beginning for himself and the Charlotte franchise.

“It feels good. I’m very happy about it,” Big Al said. “Ten years and I’ve never made an All-Star game and never made All-NBA…It feels good for me to get recognized and get the respect I got this year, but this is just the beginning.”

After finishing 21-61 during the 2012-13 season, the Bobcats added Big Al and a new head coach, Steve Clifford. As No. 25 revealed, Clifford was a big reason he signed with Charlotte, and they together were a major source behind the team’s renaissance.

“In my heart when I signed here, I knew that it was against all odds,” Al admitted. “But when I signed here, after talking to coach, I knew that it was his first year here, and the things he was saying to me—for instance, turning this team around, and he felt like I could play a big part of that—I just really bought right into it. I knew that if we did all the right things and bought into his system, then we could have a chance to be a good team this year and we did it.”

No. 25 led a remarkable resurgence for the Bobcats during the 2013-14 season, averaging 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game—both team highs. Al helped the Cats to a 22-win increase from the previous year and just their second playoff berth in franchise history.

Al_Clifford

After overcoming an early-season injury, he powered the Bobcats with a torrid second half, earning Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors in March and April, along with two Player of the Week distinctions.

The Cats finished 43-39 and earned the No. 7 seed in the East, where they were matched up with the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat. Unfortunately, Big Al suffered a debilitating foot injury. The plantar fasciitis limited his activity down low and sent him in and out of the lineup throughout the series.

Though Charlotte was eliminated in four games by Miami, Al sees this season, and his recent All-NBA honor as a start of something special for the franchise.

“I want to use it as motivation to continue to keep building and keep going,” Big Al said.

Al was the only player in the East to average more than 20 points and 10 boards per game, and he finished the regular season eighth in the league in rebounding and 11th in scoring. He became the fifth player in Charlotte NBA history to earn an All-NBA distinction—and he’s the first for the Bobcats franchise, which recently reclaimed the Hornets moniker.

Recently, Big Al returned to Charlotte’s practice court, which is now painted up with the new Hornets logo and colors for the coming season.

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