All-Star Game History & Records

There is one weekend in the year when the basketball world comes together, celebrates their best players, most spectacular dunkers and most accurate shooters and sets their eyes on one single game. The NBA All-Star Game.

For this game people forget allegiance to their home team, they stop booing players from their division rivals and simply enjoy the atmosphere and excitement of watching the 24 best players of the world go head-to-head in an epic bballer showdown.

When the 65th edition of the All-Star Game tips off in Toronto on Sunday, it will not only be the first time that the game is held outside the United States, it will also be the last time you will see Kobe Bryant wear the prestigious “West” jersey. You will see Russell Westbrook passing the ball to Steph Curry for a three and Chris Paul setting up Anthony Davis for an alley-oop. Bitter rivals in the fight for this year’s NBA championship will get along just fine and set aside their competitive nature. At least until the 4th quarter begins…

Rules & Regulations

Which brings us to the very special set of rules & regulations (both official and unspoken) which surround the NBA All-Star Game. Here is everything you need to know:

  1. The game is traditionally held on the second or third Sunday in February.
  2. The best 12 players from the Eastern Conference play against their 12 counterparts from the Western Conference.
  3. Starters are selected by a global fan ballot, while the reservers are chosen by a vote among the head coaches from each conference.
  4. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players.
  5. By use of aforementioned “fan ballot” the selection of starters is more of a popularity contest than anything else. People will vote for the players they like best, not necessarily those who play best, which may lead to controversial selections like Kobe Bryant this year or Yao Ming (every year).
  6. If a selected player is injured and cannot participate, the NBA commissioner selects a replacement.
  7. The head coach of the team with the best record in each conference is chosen to lead each squad, but is not allowed to do it two years in a row. This is commonly known as the “Riley Rule”, which was created after Lakers head coach Pat Riley earned the right to coach the Western Conference eight times in nine seasons between 1982 and 1990. (Yeah, the Lakers ruled). The coach of the team with the next best record serves instead.
  8. The MVP award is usually given to the best player of the winning team.
  9. Don’t expect a “normal” basketball game. Until the fourth quarter players often do not even appear as if they are trying to win the game. The spectacular play is most definitely attempted more often than the smart one. You will see a lot of dunks and alley oops, also a LOT of turnovers. Keep in mind these players usually never play together.
  10. Playing hard defense is frowned upon. Never has a player fouled out or been ejected during an All-Star Game. Although it would have been hilarious seeing a guy like Ron Artest flagrant fouling people to prevent dunks or layups. I’m willing to bet this year there will be no defense played either. So get ready for a lot of running up and down the court with little to no halfcourt set-plays.

Still the All-Star Game is a LOT of fun and full of stuff you will almost certainly not see during a normal regular season game, when the stakes of winning or losing are high. At the ASG winning doesn’t mean much and losing means even less, so players tend to try out stuff they wouldn’t usually try. Here are some of the best moments in All-Star Game History:

By the way, Baseball came up with the perfect way to make the All-Star Game more competitive. The winning side has homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals. Bammm! Would love to see that implemented in the NBA, but that’s a story for a whole ‘nother blog post.

In the meantime let’s rewind and go back in time to see how the idea of an All-Star Game came about…


Origin & early years

After a nasty point-shaving scandal that rocked college basketball in 1950, basketball and particularly the young National Basketball Association needed to regain public attention. Publicity director Haskell Cohen suggested to have an exhibition game featuring the league’s best players, similar to the Major League’s All-Star Game in baseball, which had already been held with great success since 1933. Although many people were pessimistic about the idea of basically copying the event the NBA gave it a try in 1951. The Boston Garden hosted the game while then Celtics owner Walter A. Brown agreed to cover all the expenses and losses should there be any.

To everyone’s surprise the very first NBA All-Star Game became a huge success, drawing an attendance of more than 10.000 which was much higher than the season’s average of 3.500. Starting from 1951 the league decided to have an All-Star Game every year.


Here are highlights from the 1962 All-Star Game with Bill Russell & Wilt Chamberlain both playing for the Eastern Conference which is about as unfair a lineup as it can get! By the way, this was obviously long before the three-point shot found its way into the league (1979), so you can see there is not a lot of spacing and it looks chaotic with most of the players gravitating towards the middle of the floor. On the other hand why would people even try to shoot a low percentage shot from outside when its awarded just the same as a layup? Can’t blame them, really.



All-Star Games in the 80s

With the emergence of spectacular superstar players like Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins the NBA became considerably more entertaining and fast paced in the 1980s. More and more action took place above the rim, with high flying players increasingly appearing on highlight reels as well as All-Star Game voting ballots.

At the center of attention stood the rivalry that ruled the whole league during that decade and made the NBA what it is today. Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird. As a result at least one of these two reached the NBA Finals every year during the 80s, with the Lakers taking home five championships to the Celtics three. But the All-Star Game was quite a different story. Teamed up with Isiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Dominique Wilkins, Dr. J and Moses Malone, Bird would lead the East to win 7 out of 10 games in the 80s.

The 80s All-Star Games in pictures:


All-Star Games in the 90s

After both Bird and Magic retired in the early 90s, Michael Jordan took over as the leading man in the league, winning 6 championships in two threepeats along the way. Together with fellow Dream Teamers Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen & Patrick Ewing, Jordan continued the East’s success in the All-Star Game, winning 6 of 9 games (ASG99 was canceled due to lockout).

In the late 90s power players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning joined the Eastern Conference thus further cementing the East’s dominance.

Thanks to the overwhelming popularity of the ’92 Olympic Dream Team, basketball and especially the NBA became a global phenomenon in the 90s. All of a sudden games were broadcast all over the world giving special games like the NBA Finals and the NBA All Star Game a much much bigger platform. What started out as a publicity stunt had grown into a must-see event and the NBA marketed it perfectly.

The 90s All-Star Games in pictures:


The 1998 All-Star Game

In 1997 someone in the upper NBA hierarchy came up with the bright idea to have every player wear their normal team jersey in the All-Star Game. The result was… colorful. That’s about the most positive word I can come up with. 5 years later they realized they made a mistake and went back to traditional East/West jerseys, thank God.

But the (colorful) 1998 All-Star Game in Madison Square Garden would go down in history for positive reasons nevertheless. Kobe Bryant, just 19 years of age playing in his first of what would become 20 All-Star Games put on quite a show. This was the basketball Mekka of the world and the talented yet unproven teenager put his basketball repertoire on full display in a duel with no other than Michael Jordan.




Player Intros, National Anthems & Half Time

There is considerable more fanfare to player introductions before the game, including lighting effects & pyrotechnics that rival any Michael Bay movie or players being introduced DURING live musical performances you would expect at the Grammys, not at a basketball game. While the best players already get star treatment from their respective teams during home games at the All-Star Game the whole thing gets multiplied times ten and takes a lot more time than regular season player intros. If you are planning to watch an NBA All-Star Game from start to finish, clear your schedule for no less than 4 hours. I’m not even kidding.

NBA All-Star Game 2014 player intros feat. Pharrell & Snoop:

Just like the player intros the national anthem performances are also put on steroids, with billboard chart topping artists being invited to sing “Oh Canada” and the “Star Spangled Banner” respectively. But there is one memorable performance that people still talk about this day: The very special, groundbreaking 1983 stripped-down rendition of no other than the king of soul: Marvin Gaye.

If you are lucky (and not living in Germany, where all good music seems to be restricted by the fabulous people of “GEMA”) you can watch that version on Youtube. If it has been taken down, you can still watch this awesome tribute by Marvin’s daughter Nona from the 2004 All-Star Game. Several passages of the ’83 original are being edited into her song, so you at least you know what I am talking about:

Halftime intermission is also longer than for a typical NBA game due to musical performances by popular artists. Think Super Bowl halftime show’s little brother in terms of size and relevance. Nevertheless recent guests have included superstars such as Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Ariana Grande, Elton John, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, OutKast, Alicia Keys, Shakira, John Legend, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar, and Christina Aguilera. None of which performances are particularly memorable with the sole exception of Mariah Carey’s 2003 halftime tribute to Michael Jordan.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the decision to use the Wizards jersey instead of the Bulls Jersey, because Jordan was still playing at the time and it would probably be disrespectful to the Wizards organization if Carey wore the iconic (retired) Bulls uniform. But seriously, putting any woman in a dress that has big numbers on it is a bad look. Singing “Hero” is also a bit too much. Still people talk about this performance to this day, so I guess it did the job.

Magic Moment

– Orlando Arena, February 9th, 1992

There have been many unforgettable moments in All-Star Game History, but the one event that stands out from all the others was the 1992 All-Star Game in Orlando. Already retired from the game of basketball due to the contraction of HIV, fans nevertheless voted Magic Johnson in as a starter for the Western Conference. After an unexpected, stellar performance Johnson received the MVP award, winning memorable one-on-one showdowns with Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan in the final minutes. He sank a fall away three pointer over the outstretched arms of Thomas to close the game. The final 14½ seconds that remained on the clock were not played when players from both teams ran onto the court to embrace a triumphant Johnson.

To this day the 1992 All-Star Game is widely regarded as probably the best All-Star Game of all time. Not only because of the “Magic Johnson factor” but also because both sides featured numerous members of the historical 1992 Olympic “Dream Team”.

Dream Team Members playing in the 1992 All-Star Game: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone, David Robinson & John Stockton.

Also playing: Dominique Wilkins, Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Tim Hardaway, Hakeem Olajuwon & James Worthy.

In any case you have to watch this video to understand what the fuzz is all about:

Best pics from the legendary 1992 All-Star Game:



All Time NBA All-Star Game Results

East leads 37:27

YearWinnerScoreHost CityMost Valuable Player
1951EASTEast 111, West 94Boston, MAEd Macauley, Boston Celtics
1952EASTEast 108, West 91Boston, MAPaul Arizin, Philadelphia Warriors
1953WESTWest 79, East 75Fort Wayne, INGeorge Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers
1954EASTEast 98, West 93 (OT)New York, NYBob Cousy, Boston Celtics
1955EASTEast 100, West 91New York, NYBill Sharman, Boston Celtics
1956WESTWest 108, East 94Rochester, NYBob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks
1957EASTEast 109, West 97Boston, MABob Cousy, Boston Celtics
1958EASTEast 130, West 118St. Louis, MOBob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks
1959WESTWest 124, East 108Detroit, MIElgin Baylor, Minneapolis Lakers & Bob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks
1960EASTEast 125, West 115Philadelphia, PAWilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors
1961WESTWest 153, East 131Syracuse, NYOscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals
1962WESTWest 150, East 130St. Louis, MOBob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks
1963EASTEast 115, West 108Los Angeles, CABill Russell, Boston Celtics
1964EASTEast 111, West 107Boston, MAOscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals
1965EASTEast 124, West 123St. Louis, MOJerry Lucas, Cincinnati Royals
1966EASTEast 137, West 94Cincinnati, OHAdrian Smith, Cincinnati Royals
1967WESTWest 135, East 120Daly City, CARick Barry, San Franciso Warriors
1968EASTEast 144, West 124New York, NYHal Greer, Philadelphia 76ers
1969EASTEast 123, West 112Baltimore, MDOscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals
1970EASTEast 142, West 135Philadelphia, PAWillis Reed, New York Knicks
1971WESTWest 108, East 107San Diego, CALenny Wilkens, Seattle SuperSonics
1972WESTWest 112, East 110Los Angeles, CAJerry West, Los Angeles Lakers
1973EASTEast 104, West 84Chicago, ILDave Cowens, Boston Celtics
1974WESTWest 134, East 123Seattle, WABob Lanier, Detroit Pistons
1975EASTEast 108, West 102Phoenix, AZWalt Frazier, New York Knicks
1976EASTEast 123, West 109Philadelphia, PADave Bing, Washington Bullets
1977WESTWest 125, East 124Milwaukee, WIJulius Erving, Phialdelphia 76ers
1978EASTEast 133, West 125Atlanta, GARandy Smith, Buffalo Braves
1979WESTWest 134, East 129Detroit, MIDavid Thompson, Denver Nuggets
1980EASTEast 144, West 136 (OT)Landover, MDGeorge Gervin, San Antonio Spurs
1981EASTEast 123, West 120Richfield, OHNate Archibald, Boston Celtics
1982EASTEast 120, West 118East Rutherford, NJLarry Bird, Boston Celtics
1983EASTEast 132, West 123Los Angeles, CAJulius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers
1984EASTEast 154, West 145 (OT)Denver, COIsiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons
1985WESTWest 140, East 129Indianapolis, INRalph Sampson, Houston Rockets
1986EASTEast 139, West 132Dallas, TXIsiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons
1987WESTWest 154, East 149 (OT)Seattle, WATom Chambers, Seattle SuperSonics
1988EASTEast 138, West 133Chicago, ILMichael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1989WESTWest 143, East 134Houston, TXKarl Malone, Utah Jazz
1990EASTEast 130, West 113Miami, FLMagic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1991EASTEast 116, West 114Charlotte, NCCharles Barkley, Philadelphia 76ers
1992WESTWest 153, East 113Orlando, FLMagic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers
1993WESTWest 135, East 132Salt lake City, UTKarl Malone, Utah Jazz & John Stockton, Utah Jazz
1994EASTEast 127, West 118Minnesapolis, MNScottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls
1995WESTWest 139, East 112Phoenix, AzMitch Richmond, Sacramento Kings
1996EASTEast 129, West 118San Antonio, TXMichael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
1997EASTEast 132, West 120Cleveland, OHGlen Rice, Charlotte Hornets
1998EASTEast 135, West 114New York, NYMichael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
2000WESTWest 137, East 126Oakland, CATim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs & Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
2001EASTEast 111, West 110Washington, DCAllen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
2002WESTWest 135, East 120Philadelphia, PAKobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2003WESTWest 155, East 145 (2OT)Atlanta, GAKevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
2004WESTWest 136, East 132Los Angeles, CAShaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
2005EASTEast 125, West 115Denver, COAllen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
2006EASTEast 122, West 120Houston, TXLeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2007WESTWest 153, East 132Las Vegas, NVKobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2008EASTEast 134, West 128New Orleans, LALeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
2009WESTWest 146, East 119Phoenix, AZKobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers & Shaquille O'Neal, Phoenix Suns
2010EASTEast 141, West 139Arlington, TXDwyane Wade, Miami Heat
2011WESTWest 148, East 143Los Angeles, CAKobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
2012WESTWest 152, East 149Orlando, FLKevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
2013WESTWest 143, East 138Houston, TXChris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers
2014EASTEast 163, West 155New Orleans, LAKyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
2015WESTWest 163, East 158New York, NYRussell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
2016Toronto, ON, Canada

All Time NBA All-Star Game Records

MVP awards
– 4x Kobe Bryant
– 4x Bob Pettit

Most points (game)
– 42, Wilt Chamberlain (1962)

Most points (half)
– 27, Russell Westbrook (2015)

Most points (quarter)
– 20, Glen Rice (1997)

Most rebounds (game)
– 27, Bob Pettit (1962)

Most rebounds (half)
– 16, Bob Pettit (1962)
– 16, Wilt Chamberlain (1960)

Most rebounds (quarter)
– 10, Bob Pettit (1962)

Most assists (game)
– 22, Magic Johnson (1984)

Most assists (half)
– 13, Magic Johnson (1984)

Most assists (quarter)
– 9, John Stockton (1989)

Most 3-pointers made (game)
– 8, Carmelo Anthony (2014)

Most steals (game)
– 8, Rick Barry (1975)

Most blocks (game)
– 6, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1980)

Triple Doubles
– Michael Jordan – 14 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists in 26 minutes (1997)
– LeBron James – 29 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists in 32 minutes (2011)
– Dwyane Wade – 24 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists in 33 minutes (2012)

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