Flashback of McDonald's All-American Game Performance from NBA's Biggest Stars

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIApril 3, 2013

Flashback of McDonald's All-American Game Performance from NBA's Biggest Stars

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    With the 2013 McDonald's All-American Game being played Wednesday night, it's a good time to look back at the performances of the NBA's biggest stars in this high school all-star event.

    From All-Stars to MVPs, many of the NBA's elite are All-American game alumni. While players such as Deron Williams and Dwyane Wade were snubbed, countless others have made their name in this very outing.

    So how have the greatest stars of the NBA fared in this momentous game?

Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics

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    Year: 1995

    Team: West

    Key Statistics: 28 points

    During the 1995 McDonald's All-American game, we received a preview of things to come as Paul Pierce teamed with Kevin Garnett on the West team. Although Garnett won MVP honors, it was Pierce who poured in a near-record 28 points.

    Pierce also battled Vince Carter during the '95 dunk contest.

    A 6'7" product of Inglewood, Calif., Pierce would eventually go on to play for the Kansas Jayhawks. After playing three seasons there, Pierce went 10th overall to the Boston Celtics in the NBA draft.

    As a man of undying loyalty, he has since spent more than 14 years in a Celtics uniform.

    Pierce is second in the history of the decorated franchise in points scored and first in three-point field goals. This is an organization that has included the likes of Larry Bird and Bill Russell.

    The scoring began at the 1995 McDonald's All-American Game, and it still hasn't stopped.

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

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    Year: 1995

    Team: West

    Stat Line: 18 points, 11 rebounds

    Kevin Garnett is one of the greatest players in NBA history. Before he led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship, he was redefining the power forward position as a primary ball-handler and facilitator, all the while topping 20 points and 10 rebounds with a couple of blocks almost every time out.

    Prior to his Hall of Fame-worthy NBA career, however, Garnett was the 1995 McDonald's All-American game MVP.

    Garnett was magnificent, picking up a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. This set the stage for an NBA career that has come to be recognized for its blend of consistency and dominance.

    With the lights shining bright, KG stepped up in a major way.

Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Year: 1996

    Team: East

    Stat Line: 13 points, 3 assists, 5-of-11 from the field

    Shaheen Holloway stole the show in the 1996 game. The Seton Hall recruit showed the world why he belonged, winning the MVP award and thus suggesting that he could be the next great star.

    It wasn't Holloway who ended up with a Hall of Fame career, though—that honor will soon belong to Kobe Bryant.

    Bryant was a decorated high school player, winning the Naismith Prep Player of the Year award in 1996. During the McDonald's All-American game, however, Bryant was held to 13 points.

    His stardom wasn't completely noticeable, although that weekend's festivities did offer up some memorable moments. Most specifically, Bryant proved to be a world-class dunk artist.

    Who knew that Kobe would end up being one of the best who ever lived?

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

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    Year: 2002

    Team: East

    Stat Line: 23 minutes, 19 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

    In 2002, the McDonald's All-American game MVP was J.J. Redick. While Redick went on to Duke and became one of the most decorated players in recent NCAA history, another 2002 alum went on to NBA stardom.

    Six-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony gave the world a preview of things to come, shooting 8-of-16 from the field and winning the slam-dunk contest.

    That same scoring brilliance was on full display on Tuesday when Anthony scored 50 points in a win over the Miami Heat.

LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    Year: 2003

    Team: East

    Stat Line: 27 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists

    LeBron James was the 2003 McDonald's All-American MVP. That was hardly an easy job, as James was tasked with outperforming the likes of Shannon Brown, Leon Powe, Charlie Villanueva, Chris Paul, Von Wafer, Mustafa Shakur and J.R. Giddens.

    No problem.

    James was sensational en route to a 122-107 win for the East squad. This wasn't just a performance that put NBA scouts on notice, but one that earned some of the highest praise of all.

    Per Christopher Lawlor of USA Today, John Wooden had unparalleled praise for LeBron. "He's as dominant a player I've seen since Oscar Robertson," the former legendary UCLA coach and McDonald's game chairman said.

    As fate would have it, that was a preface of things to come.

    James is, arguably, the most well-rounded player since Robertson. Some might even make the case that he's surpassed the Big O in that regard—even without averaging a season triple-double.

    This was the performance James needed to solidify his upcoming greatness, and he came through in a major way.

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Year: 2003

    Team: East

    Stat Line: 4 points, 10 assists

    Before Chris Paul was the NBA's most renowned point guard, he was an undersized McDonald's All-American. With everyone focused on the big guns—LeBron James, Shannon Brown and J.R. Giddens—Paul stepped in as a promising player who lacked star power.

    CP3 put the world on notice with a 10-assist performance.

    This has helped set the stage for a marvelous career, as Paul is a six-time All-Star, two-time assists leader and four-time steals champion. Even if he did take the long road to success, CP3 has made the most of every opportunity he's received.

    Earlier this year, Paul was named the 2013 NBA All-Star Game MVP. The 10-year anniversary of CP3's first coming-out party marked another one.

    The world just keeps on gaining respect for this fierce competitor.

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Year: 2004

    Team: East

    Stat Line: 16 minutes, 19 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist

    The 2004 McDonald's All-American Game was one of the most heralded in the history of the event. The likes of Sebastian Telfair, Dwight Howard, J.R. Smith, Al Jefferson and Rudy Gay were all playing in the same gym.

    And that's just the East's starting lineup.

    When it was all said and done, Howard shared co-MVP honors with Smith, thus solidifying the hype surrounding his status as the best big man in the country.

    Roughly three months later, Howard went first overall to the Orlando Magic in the NBA draft.

    Since then, D-12 has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and made seven NBA All-Star Game appearances. He's led the league in rebounds in four seasons and blocks in two.

    Howard leads the NBA in rebounding in 2012-13, thus continuing a career worth marveling.

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

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    Year: 2004

    Team: East

    Stat Line: 15 minutes, 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals

    On the same stacked roster as Dwight Howard, it isn't hard to see why Rajon Rondo was lost in the star power. However, Rondo brought his name right into the spotlight.

    It's been nothing but glory since.

    Rondo was superb, going up against elite point-guard prospects such as Shaun Livingston and Jordan Farmar. Not only did Rondo come up with a high-quality offensive output, but he snagged two steals and helped hold Livingston without a field goal.

    Thus far in the NBA, it's been more of the same.

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Year: 2006

    Team: West

    Stat Line: 18 minutes, 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists

    Kevin Durant, a four-time All-Star and three-time scoring champion, received his start at the 2006 McDonald's All-American game. As a member of the West team, Durant was sensational.

    His efforts earned him co-MVP honors with Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Chase Budinger.

    Durant finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor. He made 2-of-6 three-pointers, all three of his free-throw attempts and even tacked on five rebounds and four assists.

    Durant did all of this in 18 minutes.

    This set the stage for an award-winning freshman season at the University of Texas and offered a glimpse into the future, as Durant is now one of the most prolific scorers to ever grace the NBA.

    He is one of eight players in league history to win at least three scoring titles, and a fourth appears to be on its way.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

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    Year: 2007

    Team: West

    Stat Line: 22 minutes, 5 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 turnovers

    The 2007 McDonald's All-American game was one of the deepest in recent memory. On the West team alone, we had the likes of Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Kyle Singler, Blake Griffin and James Harden.

    Although this game managed to produce numerous stars, it was far from D-Rose's launching pad.

    Rose put on a quality performance, But he appeared to be a fish in a tank of sharks as he pushed the ball out and avoided the spotlight.

    One year later, Rose outlasted every one of these prized recruits — with the exception of Kansas' Cole Aldrich — en route to the 2008 NCAA National Championship Game.

    Since then, Rose has become an NBA MVP and a three-time All-Star. Perhaps the McDonald's All-American game shortcomings were all Rose needed to get that extra push.

    See, kids? Shining in high school doesn't mean everything.

James Harden, Houston Rockets

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    Year: 2007

    Team: West

    Stat Line: 13 minutes, 8 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist

    James Harden has become one of the league's most feared scorers with a lethal perimeter game and an uncanny ability to change directions in traffic. That's why Harden is leading the NBA in free-throw attempts per game.

    Prior to the NBA, however, Harden was a McDonald's All-American. While this game did not necessarily launch Harden's career, it proved he could hang with the elite.

    Two decorated years later, Harden was drafted third overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder and began his NBA journey.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Year: 2007

    Team: West

    Stat Line: 16 minutes, 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist

    In the NBA, Blake Griffin is a three-time All-Star, second-team All-NBA selection, Slam Dunk Contest champion and a Rookie of the Year award winner. Before that, Griffin won multiple National Player of the Year awards while attending Oklahoma.

    Before all of that, Griffin was a high-flying role player on the stacked West team. Little did we know, Griffin would emerge to be one of the best of his generation.

    Just for the record, the word "stacked" is undervaluing the quality of this squad.

    Although West teammate Michael Beasley would go on to win MVP, Griffin one-upped him by becoming the No. 1 draft choice in 2009.