The NBA All-Star Game has been played every season since 1951, with the exception of the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.
Not even the 2011 lockout that scrubbed 16 games from the NBA schedule in 2011-12 could stop the All-Star Game from going on.
This year’s game will be played Sunday night at the Toyota Center in Houston, the second time the facility has hosted the game. The Toyota Center also played host to the 2006 All-Star Game.
The All-Star Game has been played in 49 different arenas in 39 different cities. Philadelphia is the only city to have hosted the All-Star Game in three different facilities—the Philadelphia Convention Hall, The Spectrum twice and the current arena in the city, the First Union Center.
Eight buildings have hosted multiple All-Star Games and the Toyota Center will become the ninth on Sunday. The old Boston Garden and the various iterations of Madison Square Garden in New York have each hosted four. Two current arenas and four facilities that are no longer in use have hosted two each.
The two current facilities are the Staples Center in Los Angeles and US Airways Center in Phoenix. Chicago Stadium; the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.; the Spectrum in Philadelphia; and Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis also hosted a pair of All-Star games.
So which 10 performances are the best in All-Star Game history? There is a lot from which to choose. Wilt Chamberlain still holds the single-game scoring record with his 42 points in 1962. Does that game make the list? What about Bob Pettit’s 27-rebound game in 1962? Mark Price and LeBron James share the All-Star Game record with six made 3-pointers. Price did it first in 1993 and James matched the record last year. Magic Johnson handed out 22 assists in the 1984 game. Rick Barry had eight steals in 1975. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar blocked six shots in 1980.
One game that will not make the list, however, is John Stockton’s performance in the 1989 All-Star Game. That was the night Stockton set the All-Star Game record with 12 turnovers.
Counting down from No. 10, here are the top 10 individual performances in All-Star Game history:
10. The Iceman Heats Up the Cap Centre
George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs keyed the East All-Stars to a 144-136 win in just the second overtime game in the history of the All-Star Game at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md., in 1980.
Gervin was named MVP of the game, scoring 34 points—including 18 in the third quarter. He played 40 minutes in all, finishing 14-of-26 from the floor and notching 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The 1979-80 season saw Gervin win the third of his four NBA scoring titles, as he averaged 33.1 points per game for the Spurs that year.
9. LeBron outduels T-Mac down the Stretch in Houston
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavalier became the youngest All-Star Game MVP in history in 2006, scoring 29 points to fuel a second-half comeback as the East rallied for a 122-120 victory at the Toyota Center in Houston.
James played 30 minues and was 12-for-21 shooting, including 4-for-10 from 3-point range, and had six rebounds, two assists and two steals. James also disrupted a final shot by West forward Tracy McGrady—who scored a game-high 36 points in his home arena—to help the East hang on for the win.
The 21-year-old third-year player went on to score 31.4 points a game in 79 games for Cleveland in 2005-06.
8. Barry Helps West Snap Losing Skid
Rick Barry of the San Francisco Warriors had home-court advantage for the 1967 All-Star Game at the Cow Palace in San Francisco and he took advantage.
Barry scored a game-high 38 points in 34 minutes to lead the West to a 135-120 win, snapping a five-game losing streak to the East in the process.
Barry, one of two Warriors to start along with center Nate Thurmond, was 16-for-27 shooting and also had six rebounds and three assists while earning MVP honors.
The second-year forward had a knack for snapping streaks in 1966-67. He averaged 35.6 points a game for San Francisco to take the scoring title away from Wilt Chamberlain for the first time in Chamberlain’s eight-year career. The Warriors reached the NBA Finals, where they lost to Chamberlain’s Philadelphia 76ers.
7. Last-Minute Addition Chambers Steals the Show in Seattle
Tom Chambers wasn’t even supposed to be in the 1987 All-Star Game at Seattle’s Kingdome. The Seattle SuperSonics forward was a late addition to the Western Conference squad after Ralph Sampson of the Houston Rockets injured his knee the week before the game.
Chambers made the most of his opportunity, scoring 34 points—including four in overtime—and taking home MVP honors in the West’s 154-149 overtime victory. It was the highest-scoring All-Star Game ever and Chambers was a major factor in sending the game into an extra session.
Chambers scored 10 points in just more than three minutes late in the fourth quarter, and Rolando Blackman of the Dallas Mavericks made a pair of free throws in the closing seconds to tie the game in regulation. Chambers also had four rebounds, four steals and two assists and was 13-for-25 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from deep.
Chambers scored 23.3 points a game for the SuperSonics in 1986-87, leading Seattle to a surprise trip to the Western Conference Finals.
6. Iverson Dials Up a Winner at the MCI Center
Allen Iverson scored 15 of his 25 points in the final nine minutes of the game, helping turn what looked like a blowout loss into a 111-110 victory for the East in the 2001 All-Star Game at the MCI Center in Washington.
Iverson earned MVP honors for his performance in leading the East back from a 19-point deficit to start the fourth period. Iverson was 9-for-21 from the floor and had five assists and four steals.
The Philadelphia 76ers star led the league in 2000-01 with his 31.1 points per game, helping to lead the 76ers to their first NBA Finals appearance in 18 years.
5. Kobe Steals Griffin’s Thunder at Staples Center
After the first two days of All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles were dominated by Clippers’ super-rookie Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers put on a show in front of his home crowd in the actual 2011 All-Star Game at the Staples Center.
Bryant had a double-double with 37 points and 14 rebounds—including 10 on the offensive glass—to lead the West to a 148-143 win. Bryant’s MVP trophy was his fourth, tying him with Bob Pettit for the most all-time.
Bryant was 14-for-26 on the night, including 2-for-7 from 3-point land, and chipped in three assists and three steals besides his shockingly effective work on the glass.
Bryant scored 26.9 points a game for the Lakers in 2010-11, but their string of titles ended at two straight as the Dallas Mavericks won the West, sweeping the Lakers in the conference semifinals along the way.
4. One Guard is Enough … When It’s Isiah
East coach K.C. Jones decided one guard was enough for his team in the 1986 All-Star Game at Reunion Arena in Dallas. That one guard turned into a one-man show.
Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons won his second All-Star Game MVP award with 30 points and 10 assists as the East dropped the West 139-132.
Thomas was deployed late in the fourth quarter with forwards Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Buck Williams and center Moses Malone and Thomas sparked an 18-4 run that helped the East put the game away. Thomas was 11-for-19 shooting and also had five steals in the game.
For the season, Thomas averaged 20.8 points and 10.8 assists a game for the Pistons.
3. Wilt Sets Record in Losing Cause
Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors had a monster game for the East in the 1962 All-Star Game at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, scoring an All-Star Game record 42 points and also yanking down 24 rebounds.
It wasn’t even enough to get MVP honors, which went to Bob Pettit of the hometown St. Louis Hawks in the West’s 150-130 win.
Chamberlain was 17-for-23 in the game, which came during his record-shattering 1961-62 season with the Warriors. Chamberlain set another scoring record that season with his 100-point game against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pa., and became the only player in NBA history to score 4,000 points in a single season, averaging 50.1 points per game. He also led the league with his 25.7 rebounds per night.
2. Jordan Caps Big Weekend with MVP Trophy
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls dominated All-Star Weekend at Chicago Stadium. He won his second straight Slam Dunk Contest championship the day before the game then scored a near-record 40 points in the 1988 All-Star Game to lead the East to a 138-133 win.
Jordan’s scoring total was the second-highest in All-Star history, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain’s 42 in 1962. Jordan scored 16 points in the last 5:51 of the game to seal the win for the East and also added eight rebounds, four steals, four blocked shots and three assists.
Jordan won the first of his five NBA MVP awards in 1987-88 and was also named Defensive Player of the Year. He led the league with his 35.0 scoring average, 40.4 minutes per game and 3.2 steals per game.
1. Johnson’s Return Just Like Magic
Magic Johnson had retired from the NBA shortly before the start of the 1991-92 season after learning he had contracted HIV. But he was voted a starter for the Western Conference for the 1992 All-Star Game at the Orlando Arena and came out of retirement for one day to play in the game.
He had a game-high 25 points and nine assists to capture his second All-Star Game MVP award in the West’s 153-113 blowout victory. It was an amazing performance by a player who had not played competitively for nearly eight months, in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls.
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