The 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend kicks off tonight in New Orleans with the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge (live on BT Sport 1 at 2am), the first of a series of events that will keep fans across the world glued to their televisions to catch all the action live. A global celebration of the game of basketball, some of the most unforgettable moments in NBA history have taken place during the league’s All-Star. Here are 10 that stand out:
1984: Make a Weekend of It – NBA All-Star literally reached new heights with the introduction of the Slam Dunk Contest in 1984, won by Larry Nance against a marquee field that included Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins. The event was an important step in the expansion of NBA All-Star, which would add the Three-Point Contest in 1986 and more skill-based competitions in subsequent years.
1988: As Good as It Gets – Many observers regard the 1988 festivities in Chicago as the greatest All-Star in NBA history. All-Star Saturday set the tone as Michael Jordan outdueled Dominique Wilkins in a classic Slam Dunk Contest, and Larry Bird won the last of his three consecutive Three-Point Contest crowns with a late flurry punctuated by a famous celebratory gesture while his title-winning shot was still in the air. Jordan was back at it on his home floor a day later, finishing with 40 points, eight rebounds, four steals, four blocks and three assists in an MVP performance during the East’s 138-133 win.
1992: Pure Magic – Three months after announcing his retirement from the NBA, Magic Johnson took to the court at the 1992 All-Star Game in Orlando. It was like he had never left: Magic dazzled the crowd with 25 points and nine assists to earn MVP honors and lead the West past the East 153-113. Former NBA Commissioner David Stern says presenting Johnson with the MVP trophy that day is his favorite All-Star memory.
1997: Best of the Best – In a normal year, Michael Jordan recording the first triple-double in All-Star Game history and All-Star Game MVP Glen Rice scoring 20 points in a single quarter for the victorious East would be the obvious headliners. But top billing at the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland belonged to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, as generations of basketball icons were honored at halftime in the culmination of the “NBA at 50” celebration.
2000: VC to Believe – Vince Carter is an eight-time All-Star and one of the top 25 scorers in NBA history. For many fans, though, the first line on his résumé is a jaw-dropping performance at the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest in Oakland, California. From executing a reverse spin 360 to dunking his forearm through the rim, Carter was so remarkable that he completely overshadowed exceptional displays by Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady.
2001: The East’s Answer – After the NBA’s past All-Star Game MVPs were honored at halftime of the 2001 All-Star Game, Allen Iverson joined the club by spearheading the East’s incredible comeback. Iverson scored 15 of his 25 points in the final nine minutes as the East rallied from a 21-point deficit to stun the West 111-110 in Washington, D.C.
2003: Farewell, MJ – Michael Jordan’s final All-Star Game, in 2003, nearly ended in storybook fashion, when he nailed a trademark fadeaway jumper to put the East ahead with 4.8 seconds left in overtime. But Kobe Bryant hit two free throws to force a second OT and the West prevailed 155-145 in Atlanta. Still, the occasion belonged to Jordan, who said during a halftime tribute in his honor, “I leave the game in good hands.”
2008: Props to Superman – How creative was the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest? So much so that defending champion Gerald Green was upstaged despite throwing down a two-handed slam while blowing out the candle on a cupcake that was perched on the back of the rim. Green had to settle for second place behind Dwight Howard, whose signature moment came when he donned a Superman cape and hurled the ball through the basket. Howard became the first center to win the contest.
2015 and 2016: Russ Rules – With electrifying performances in the West’s victories in 2015 and 2016, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder became the first player in All-Star Game history to win outright back-to-back MVP awards. Westbrook scored 41 points in 2015 at New York and registered 31 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals in 2016 at Toronto, the first All-Star Game held outside the United States.
2016: Superstar Send-Off – One of the highlights of Kobe Bryant’s farewell season took place during the 2016 All-Star Game at Air Canada Centre. Bryant relished his 18th and final All-Star appearance, which included a pregame tribute from Magic Johnson, multiple standing ovations and fun one-on-one moments between Kobe and some of his longtime rivals.
NBA All-Star 2017 from New Orleans will be broadcast on BT Sport 1. Coverage includes:
– Friday evening/Saturday morning, 2am: BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge
– Saturday evening/Sunday morning, 1am: State Farm All-Star Saturday Night
– Sunday evening/Monday morning, 1am: The 66th NBA All-Star Game at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans
Source: Pitch London