While Pro Bowl 2011 proved just how un-inspiring the NFL’s annual All-Star gathering has become, the NBA All-Star Game has consistently managed to entertain fans and promote the league throughout the world.
The key to their success has been an ability to mix respect for the past, promotion of the young stars of the game, and the showcasing of elite athletes doing their thing in a fun and entertaining format. \
With the continual addition of new and fun events such as the dunk contest, the three-point shootout, and the Rookie-Sophomore game, the NBA has created a full gala extravaganza weekend of activities that attracts the best of the best, not only from the world of hoops, but also from other sports and the world of entertainment.
While the powers that be try to figure out how to un-break the Pro Bowl or make the MLB All-Star game more relevant, we present the Top Ten NBA All-Star games:
Boston’s Bob Cousy put on a show in the fourth All-Star game ever, and the first at Madison Square Garden.
Scoring ten points in the overtime period alone, Cousy recorded one final steal, snagging the MVP award away from Minneapolis’ Jim Pollard in a last-minute re-vote.
100 points. 20,000 women. Not a bad career.
The city of Philadelphia hosted this one and showed off both their hometown arena and their prized possession.
Rookie Wilt Chamberlain wowed the home crowd with 22 points and 25 rebounds on his way to an East victory and an MVP award in his first try.
Zeke and Magic. The original frenemies.
In a high-scoring overtime victory, Isiah Thomas scored 21 points in the second half alone, and added fifteen assists that mostly went to Julius Erving.
Thomas’ best buddy Magic Johnson held up his end of the bargain for the West with an All-Star record 22 assists.
He's a suit now, but this man could play.
One of those classic had-to-happen moments.
With seven seconds left, The Logo took the ball, dribbled the length of the court and buried the game winner in front of a crazed home crowd in the Los Angeles Forum.
The big story here was the reunion of Shaquille O’Neal (then with the Phoenix Suns) and Kobe Bryant (still with the L.A. Lakers) as they led the West to victory, shared the MVP award, and engaged in some awkwardly-forced friendly moments.
The other notable highlight here was an opening extravaganza that featured Shaq dancing with hip-hop troupe Jabbawockeez.
It was a must-see TV for the NBA fan of 2009; the end of days for NBA purists.
Men among men.
It’s rare for All-Star teammates to share an MVP award, but only once have real teammates shared an All-Star MVP award.
John Stockton and Karl Malone, already linked in history, took the opportunity to put on a show for their home fans.
Maybe a stretch, as Stockton’s 15 points and nine assists was relatively pedestrian for him, but it just wouldn’t have seemed right to honor one and not the other.
Tom Chambers shooting. The fans saw a lot of this in 1987.
The Seattle Supersonics’ Tom Chambers’ last-second selection as a replacement for Ralph Sampson seemed like nothing more than a nod to Seattle’s home fans in 1987.
However, Chambers had other ideas, exploding for 35 points in an overtime thriller, capturing the imagination of millions and taking home the most unlikely MVP award in All-Star game history.
The end of an era.
So many highlights it’s tough to get then all in.
Vince Carter gave up his starting spot so Michael Jordan could start his final All-Star game.
Jordan responded by jacking up 27 shots and drilling a jumper with five seconds left in the first OT, only to have the game go into double OT on two Kobe Bryant foul shots. I
n the second OT it was all Kevin Garnett, who finished with 37 in the double-OT win in quite possibly the most entertaining All-Star game ever.
Young Kobe rocked a 360 slam and a full-extension alley-oop - all in the first quarter.
A 19 yr-old Kobe Bryant came to Madison Square Garden determined to get noticed, and treated the crowd to a variety of dunks and behind the back dribbles.
Michael Jordan responded with 23 points, often while guarded by Bryant, and took home the MVP in the East win.
But the moment everyone remembers is Bryant waving off a pick from Hall of Famer Karl Malone to go one-on-one, causing the disrespected veteran to later threaten to quit All-Star games for good.
It's everybody’s choice for the number one spot, and a legitimate goosebump moment as well.
Magic Johnson, who had retired before the season due to contracting the HIV virus, was voted into the game by the fans and received an endless standing ovation to start the game.
He responded by showing us all what we would be missing, scoring 23 points and dishing out nine assists. He finished by raining in a long three to end the game and breaking out his trademark smile in the most memorable moment in NBA All-Star history.