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Mike Conley admits he’s looking for respect, All-Star recognition

Grizzlies, Mike Conley

Mike Conley has gotten the chance to be the frontman of this Memphis Grizzlies team and despite being seemingly comfortable being in the shadows of elite players at his position, the 31-year-old admitted he’s looking to leave his mark in the game before it’s all said and done.

When evaluating point guards, names like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and John Wall often leave the tip of the tongue before Conley’s ever does. One thing all of those players have in common? All-Star appearances.

For Conley to leave that lasting mark on his career, a first-time All-Star appearance might be in order.

“I look for respect and to try to earn the respect of a lot of people,” Mike Conley told Michael Lee of The Athletic. “If you make the All-Star team and you get the label next your name, for whatever reason, people will think, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s good now.’ But if you don’t have it, it’s, ‘Well, he’s never made it, he’s never done anything, so why would you think he’s any better than this guy or the next guy.’ It kind of keeps me under this glass ceiling that I’m trying to bust through.

“It’s gotten more frustrating as I get older,” Conley added. “I’m 31 now. I’m 12 years in. At some point, you know the game will have to end for you. Hopefully, it’s seven, eight years from now, but at the end of the day, when I look back on it, and all that I’ve accomplished in my career and you think about all of those things and there are so many missed opportunities for recognition, in different ways. And that’s been eating at me, for a while.”

Conley’s name often sneaks in conversations of the top-10 point guards in the league, victim of the smaller market and the reduced visibility that comes from playing at the FedEx Forum, with only a handful of games broadcasted on national TV.

Yet the Ohio State product is putting together his best season yet, bouncing back from an injury-marred 2017-18 season that only saw him play 12 games, only to average a career-high 21.1 points and tie a career-best with 6.5 assists per game, leading the Grizzlies to a sixth seed in the West.

While the competition is stiff, Mike Conley could make a case for his inclusion in the mid-February festivities if he can bring his team among the top-four seeds in the conference.