No one does spectacle quite like the NBA, and the All-Star games are great evidence of that. The first All-Star game was played way back in 1951 at the Boston Garden, where the Eastern All-Stars defeated the Western All-Stars, 111-94. The idea was originally conceived because then NBA publicity director Haskell Cohen wanted to stage an exhibition game between the league’s best players to win back public favour after the world of basketball had been dirtied by the college basketball point-shaving scandal. Some of Cohen’s colleagues were less enthusiastic about the plan, and it took the Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown to host the event for free for everyone at the NBA to green-light the special games.
Since then, the All-Star game has been hosted every year in different cities and has showcased the most exceptional talents raining down big threes, doing mazy cross-overs, and making alley-oop plays that look like they’ve come straight out of a computer game. There’s been so many good All-Star games down the years, but which ones have been the greatest?
Here, then, is a quick look at some of the greatest NBA All-Star games that basketball has been lucky to have been gifted. Thank-you Haskell Cohen and Walter. A Brown.
The 1993 All-Star game took place in Salt Lake City at the Delta Center and was a decadent feast of 90’s basketball flair. It was a standout show because it had most of the previous year’s Olympic gold-medalists, nicknamed the ‘Dream Team’, taking part. In fact, the West’s starting line-up of John Stockton, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone had all featured in Barcelona. It’s not like the East’s starting five was anything short of incredible either, as they had Isiah Thomas, Scottie Pippen, Larry Johnson, Michael Jordan, and a certain Shaquille O’Neal starring in his first ever All-Star game.
You might think that with both teams that stacked with skill, the game couldn’t possibly live up to expectations, but it was highly competitive and fast-paced, with overtime being needed to find a winner. It was the West who finally came out on top 135-132, as we reported here at https://www.justallstar.com/. Another moment of note was that the MVP award, in a rare event, was handed out to two players, John Stockton and Karl Malone, both Utah Jazz players, who were playing in their home stadium.
This 2003 game is best remembered for one thing, it was the last All-Star game of the best basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan. It was, obviously, an emotional moment for everyone who had watched Jordan for the past two decades do things on the court that people thought not possible, and he gave an impassioned speech at half-time to the packed crowd in Atlanta.
Yet this game shouldn’t just be remembered for that, as the basketball that took place between the two teams was action-packed. The Western Conference had a rip-roaring Kobe Bryant dropping baskets from all over the place and the Eastern Conference had Allen Iverson criss-crossing across the court. It was a closely contested game and was the first All-Star game to go into double overtime. The West just managed to nick it though, as the giant frame of Kevin Garnett sunk three jump-shots in a row to win the game.
Garnett was given the MVP award and what an asset to his team he was. One of his old teams, the Brooklyn Nets, sure wish they could’ve had him back running things in centre, as they just crashed out of the Playoff’s against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks are now the favourites to win the NBA Championship and are priced at 6/4 at the best online bookmakers.
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This game was watched by a monumental 108,713 people, the largest basketball crowd of all-time, they all packed into the then newly built Dallas Cowboys stadium in Texas. That many people watching obviously put an extra zip into affairs, as it was a hard-fought game played at neck-breaking speed.
Lebron James helped the Eastern Conference defeat the West with a resounding twenty-five points. It was his last season with Cleveland before he filmed The Decision and shocked the basketball world by moving to the Miami Heat. There have been lots of reports since then saying that this was the game that made Lebron want to play with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade out in Miami, as they performed together so well on the court. Bosh has come out recently though, as was reported on https://www.sportscasting.com, and said that he didn’t realise Lebron was coming to the Heat until he sat down and watched The Decision. It’s fascinating though, watching back a game that had such a profound impact on the future decade of basketball.