With the Raptors’ 123-111 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre, Casey clinched the Eastern Conference coaching spot and will be at the helm of Team LeBron in the 2018 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. This is Casey’s first time coaching an All-Star squad in his nine seasons as head coach, and he’s the first Raptors head coach to earn the distinction in the franchise’s 23 seasons.
After the victory, Lowry and the Raptors celebrated by dousing their head coach with water.
“After getting showered by K-Lo and those guys and running out of there, it’s an honor, mainly for the organization, for Larry Tanenbaum, George Cope and the Rogers family,” Casey said. “That’s what it’s about — it’s for the organization.”
The Raptors and Casey earned the All-Star coaching nod with a 33-15 record, second best in the Eastern Conference. Boston’s Brad Stevens, whose Celtics are atop the East at 35-15, coached the East in the All-Star Game last year and is not eligible this time around.
“I’ve done it before [as an assistant coach], so I understand the hectic weekend it’s going to be,” Casey said. “But I think for the organization, for what we’re trying to do here in Toronto, is something special to talk about for a weekend and to put a light on our program and see what we’re doing is the most important thing.”
The Raptors, a franchise that often is fighting for recognition on the league’s big stage, have won 50 games in each of the past two seasons.
Now, Casey joins Toronto guards DeMar DeRozan and Lowry as All-Star Game selections.
“It’s cool,” DeRozan said. “It’s something that for the last couple of years we’ve been fighting for. What an accomplishment. You want to see a coaching staff get in there and be able to coach in an All-Star Game, as well. It’s one of my goals ever since I got my first All-Star. You want to look over there and see your coach coaching.”
With the new format organizing the two All-Star teams as picked by captains from the two conferences — Cleveland’s LeBron James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry — Casey actually will be coaching against his All-Star backcourt. DeRozan and Lowry are on Team Stephen.
Still, Toronto celebrated a first in its history.
“This is also for the players,” Casey said. “We still have a lot of basketball to be played, and we’re not going to lose our eye on the goal moving forward. [But] it’s an honor for the program.”