The Flukiest NBA All-Stars of Every Decade

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJune 29, 2020

The Flukiest NBA All-Stars of Every Decade

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    Not all NBA All-Stars are created equally.

    While Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and others have made 15 trips or more, there are lesser-known players who have been named All-Stars just once. Plenty, in fact, as there have been 503 All-Stars over the years, with 166 just making it once.

    We'll explore some of the flukier ones here, listed by era.


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    Richie Regan, Rochester Royals, 1957

    The 1957 All-Star Game featured Hall of Famers Bob Cousy, Dolph Schayes and Bob Pettit, three players who would combine to make 36 total appearances.

    It also included Richie Regan, a 6'2" point guard in his second season with the Rochester Royals.

    Regan was named an All-Star while averaging 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and shooting 32.9 percent in his 29.6 minutes. Even for the 1950s, his scoring and shooting numbers were far below that of his All-Star peers.

    Regan, who joined the NBA after two years in the military, would only play three seasons professionally before becoming the head coach at his alma mater, Seton Hall.


    Chuck Noble, Detroit Pistons, 1960

    As a 6'4" shooting guard with the Fort Wayne and Detroit Pistons from 1955-1962, Chuck Noble's best season came in 1959-60.

    A stat line of 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists on 35.7 percent shooting was enough to get Noble to the 1960 All-Star Game, where he was teammates with Elgin Baylor facing an East team that started Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain.

    Noble would go 0-of-5 from the field in his 11 minutes to finish with zero points, but he did pass out three assists. He'd finish his career with averages of 8.0 points and 3.3 assists before retiring in 1962.


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    Curtis Rowe, Detroit Pistons, 1976

    Curtis Rowe, who played with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at UCLA, would go on to play eight seasons with the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics.

    While he was a solid role player who averaged double digits in scoring for six consecutive years, the 6'7" power forward didn't look like an All-Star, especially as the NBA grew its talent base in the '70s.

    Averaging 16.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 37.5 minutes in 1975-76, Rowe was named a reserve on the Western Conference team, playing behind guys like Abdul-Jabbar, Tiny Archibald and Rick Barry.

    Seeing eight minutes of action, Rowe pulled down a pair of rebounds and hit a free throw in a 123-109 loss.


    Lionel Hollins, Portland Trail Blazers, 1978

    The current Los Angeles Lakers assistant and former head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brooklyn Nets, Lionel Hollins had a good 10-year career as a player in the 1970s and '80s.

    As a two-time All-Defensive team member who was also named to the 1975-76 All-Rookie team, Hollins made his lone All-Star Game in 1978 while averaging 15.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

    Besides the modest numbers, what made Hollins' selection surprising was the fact that he ranked third in scoring on his own team. The Portland Trail Blazers were led by Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas, with Hollins serving as the third option.

    Hollins would never average more than the 15.9 points he did in his third season, going on to play for five different teams over the next seven seasons.


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    James Donaldson, Dallas Mavericks, 1988

    The 1988 All-Star Game featured some of the biggest names the game has ever seen, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Moses Malone, Dominique Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, James Worthy, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Kevin McHale, among others.

    James Donaldson, a 7'2" center who was the eighth-leading scorer on his own Mavericks team, was also selected as an injury replacement to the Western Conference. His averages of 7.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 1.3 blocks on 55.8 percent shooting were fine for a starting-level center but were far from All-Star quality. Donaldson had put up 10.8 points, 11.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game just a season prior without being selected to the game.

    His All-Star appearance was even more peculiar when considering John Stockton was left off the team despite leading the NBA in assists. Stockton averaged 14.7 points, 13.8 assists and 3.0 steals and shot 57.4 percent overall.


    Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz, 1989

    Mark Eaton is one of the greatest shot-blockers in NBA history and still holds the record of 5.6 blocks per game set in the 1984-85 season. He was named to five All-Defensive teams and was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, so it's not like he was an unknown when he made his first and only All-Star Game in 1989.

    Being a monster on defense at 7'4", 275 pounds, Eaton was nearly the size of current Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic without nearly the same offensive touch around the rim. He never hit double-digit scoring numbers and had a lifetime field-goal percentage of just 45.8 percent despite his size.

    Eaton's lone All-Star appearance didn't even come during his most productive season, either. He averaged 6.2 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.8 blocks and shot 46.2 percent in 1988-89, far from his career highs of 9.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.6 blocks.

    While defense earned him a place in the game, Eaton's 6.2 points-per-game scoring average remains a record for the lowest in history during an All-Star season.


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    A.C. Green, Los Angeles Lakers, 1990

    The NBA's all-time leader in consecutive games played with 1,192, A.C. Green was a three-time NBA champion in his 17 seasons.

    As a terrific role player for Lakers teams that featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy, Green was rewarded with an All-Star nod in 1990.

    Joining Johnson and Worthy, Green was voted in as a starter despite averaging just 12.9 points, 8.7 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. He started over future Hall of Famers and big-time scorers like Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin and David Robinson, going 0-of-3 for zero points and three rebounds in his 12 minutes.

    Green will forever be known as the NBA's ultimate Iron Man, but his All-Star appearance may have been a bit undeserved.


    B.J. Armstrong, Chicago Bulls, 1994

    When Michael Jordan retired following the Chicago Bulls' first three-peat in 1993, it was assumed the team would take a significant step back.

    Instead, the Bulls' win total only dipped from 57 to 55 total victories, with Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and B.J. Armstrong getting more offensive opportunities.

    While Armstrong had a solid season (14.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 47.6 percent shooting), he didn't deserve to be named a starter on the East team. Voters were clearly impressed by Chicago's ability to stay afloat, as Armstrong, Pippen and Grant were all named All-Stars.

    It would be the 11-year veteran's only All-Star appearance, one that would likely never have happened if Jordan hadn't retired to play minor league baseball.


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    Theo Ratliff, Philadelphia 76ers, 2001

    As one of the better shot-blockers in NBA history, Theo Ratliff was a solid starter and role player in the league for 16 seasons.

    Most of his success came on the defensive side of the ball, as the 6'10" big man averaged double digits in scoring just four times in his career.

    His offensive production and team success both hit a peak in 2001, however, as playing with Allen Iverson on a 56-win, Finals-bound team helped Ratliff get a little more recognition.

    Putting up 12.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks and shooting 49.9 percent from the field, Ratliff was a surprising All-Star, but unfortunately he never even got to play in the game because of an injury.


    Jameer Nelson, Orlando Magic, 2009

    Jameer Nelson had an impressive 14-year career in the NBA, playing point guard for some very good Orlando Magic teams centered around Dwight Howard.

    Despite his stature (6'0", 190 lbs), Nelson was strong enough to get to the basket and possessed a reliable outside shot. While never particularly flashy or one of the elite point guards during his career, Nelson still made the 2009 Eastern Conference All-Star team.

    The selection was a surprise given he was the fourth-leading scorer on his own team (16.7 points) and would finish the season 22nd overall in the league in assists (5.4 per game) had his 42 total games made him eligible.

    Nelson was ultimately aided by the Magic's 59-23 record, as Howard and Rashard Lewis would get the nod as well. An injury prevented Nelson from playing in his only All-Star Game, and the strong guard play in the East at the time (Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Ray Allen, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams) would mean he'd never get the chance to return.


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    Chris Kaman, Los Angeles Clippers, 2010

    The sixth overall pick in the loaded 2003 draft class, Kaman carved out a nice career in his 13 seasons.

    While playing on some terrible Clippers teams pre-Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, Kaman became a skilled offensive low-post option who could step out and hit the mid-range shot. The 7'0", 265-pound center wasn't the quickest, but he became a good shot-blocker with size and the ability to close out on opponents at the rim.

    In 2009-10, Kaman was packed into a crowded frontcourt alongside Marcus Camby for a 29-win Clippers team. While he had averaged just 10.4 points over his first six seasons, he put up 18.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game on 49.0 percent shooting.

    With Portland Trail Blazers star guard Brandon Roy hurt, he was named as an injury replacement to the Western Conference All-Star team.

    While Kaman's production was solid, Monta Ellis was averaging 25.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.2 steals for the Golden State Warriors. He finished as the NBA's sixth-leading scorer, even ahead of teammate Stephen Curry. Picking Kaman over him seemed questionable at best.

    Following his lone All-Star Game, the former Central Michigan star would never average more than 13.1 points per game, playing for five teams over his final six seasons.


    Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks, 2015

    Winning should absolutely have an effect on a player's All-Star Game worthiness, although sometimes voting can go too far.

    While Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal missed out on All-Star status in 2020 despite averaging 30.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists, Kyle Korver made the 2015 squad based on the Atlanta Hawks' success.

    Korver averaged just 12.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists on 48.7 percent shooting for a Hawks team that would finish 60-22 overall. While Korver did nail an NBA-best 49.2 percent of his three-pointers, he was the fifth-leading scorer on his own team and not a particularly good defender at age 33.

    Atlanta would tie the NBA record with four All-Stars selected from the same team, with Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague also joining Korver.