As the NBA’s All-Star weekend approaches, fans around the world are casting ballots for the players they’d like to see play in the big game. Lebron James is set to make his 19th consecutive appearance in the game, likely repeating as the most-voted-for player and team captain.
Players like Tyrese Haliburton and Jalen Brunson are poised to become first-time All-Stars this year. With the All-Star game right around the corner, now’s a good time to take a look back at some of the best moments in NBA All-Star game history.
Michael Jordan Slam Dunk Contest
Almost 15 years have passed since Michael Jordan reigned supreme at the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Slam Dunk Contest in 1998. Betting has increasingly become an integral part of the fan experience since “His Airness” took flight. If Jordan were still playing, his team would almost certainly be a sports betting favorite. Jordan’s dunk during that All-Star Weekend became the most famous dunk in the history of the NBA. He also put on a performance for the history books during the actual game, outshining his teammates. MJ scored 40 points on 17-of-23 shooting from the field, leading the East to a 138-135 victory.
Shaq and Kobe Share the MVP Award
The best NBA players of all time have had a chance to display their magic during the league’s All-Star weekends over the years. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal are two of the greatest players in the history of the NBA. For a few years, they played together on the LA Lakers.
However, they had a falling out that fueled a years-long rivalry that didn’t end until they reunited on the court under Phil Jackson for the 2009 All-Star game. Their combined efforts helped secure a 146-119 victory for the West.
Shaq scored 17 points, pulled down five rebounds, and dished out three assists in the game, while Kobe contributed 27 points, four assists, and four steals. The two shared MVP honors at what would be Shaq’s final All-Star game.
Lebron James Becomes Youngest MVP
While there’s a lot of debate about whether Lebron James or Michael Jordan deserves the title of GOAT, there’s no denying James is one of the best to ever play the game of basketball. The NBA is the most famous basketball league in the world, and players like James are the reason why.
James won the All-Star Game MVP award in 2006 at just 21 years old, during his third season in the NBA. It looked like the East would lose the game, being behind by as many as 21 points that night. However, James scored 29 points and led a rally that resulted in the East winning by two points.
Larry Bird Three-Point Contest
As one of the best three-point shooters in NBA history, it’s no surprise Larry Bird was confident in his skills. He was so confident that on February 6, 1988, he walked into the All-Star locker room and asked, “Who’s coming in second?” He was referencing the three-point contest that was about to get underway.
Trash-talking in the NBA is an art, but what gives a player credibility is being able to back up what they say on the court. Bird did just that, reaching the contest’s final round without any problems. When it was Bird’s turn to shoot, he didn’t bother removing his warm-up jacket.
After shooting his final shot, Bird put his finger up and walked off the court with the ball still in the air. It was his third three-point contest victory and the most memorable. Bird’s talent paid handsomely, and he became the first player to earn more than $5 million during the 1991-1992 season. As good as his salary was, it doesn’t compare to the richest players in today’s NBA.