NBA All Star Weekend is finally upon us, and like every year, there is no shortage of fun and action when the league’s best players get together and put on a show for the fans in Charlotte. While Friday offered the All-Star Celebrity Game and Rising Stars Challenge, the true entertainment begins on Saturday night as unique skill sets will be put to the test as the Skills Competition, Three-Point Shootout and Dunk Contest take center stage.
Saturday night showcases the most events out of the entire weekend, but it’s just the precursor to Sunday’s big All-Star Game. The star-studded exhibition has a little bit of everything that fans enjoy about the game of basketball. Whether it’s the entertainment, the eye-opening highlight plays or the game itself, there’s almost always a memorable performance that occurs in the NBA‘s annual event.
As we brace for All-Star Saturday and Sunday’s All-Star Game, here are five of the most memorable All-Star Game moments in recent years:
1. Kobe and Shaq share All-Star MVP (2009)
It had been about five years since these two superstars played together in Los Angeles, but on this night they were able share an amazing performance. Kobe led all scorers with 27 points, and Shaq (who was now a member of the Phoenix Suns) added 17 points and five rebounds in a limited 11 minutes of playing time. Though they weren’t exactly best of friends, it was great to see two Lakers legends of the game reconcile and put in a great effort to entertain the fans again. After all of their successes while in Los Angeles, fans enjoyed witnessing these two on the same court one last time.
2. Shoot the ball! (2012)
With 15 seconds left in the 2012 All-Star Game, the East trailed the West 149-151, though possessed an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead. The ball was in LeBron James‘ hands and he had only Kobe Bryant between himself and the game-tying basket. It was Kobe guarding LeBron in a game-deciding moment like everyone wanted to see, but James decided to pass the ball to Deron Williams, who would miss the shot. Alas, the ball ended up in James’ hands again with six seconds to go. Instead of taking the shot, he passed it again, and this time it was stolen. Kobe smacked his hands together in disappointment, exclaiming to the then-ring-less James that he needs to relish those opportunities. Arguably the most clutch scorer of all time pushing another all-time great to find that killer instinct. A very cool moment.
3. Setting Records: Kobe passes Jordan; LeBron passes Bryant – (2012, 2016)
On Feb. 27, 2012, Kobe Bryant passed his long-time idol Michael Jordan to become the All-Star Game scoring leader. In what was his last memorable season as a member of the Lakers, Bryant showed out, scoring 27 points in the game and making his presence felt on both ends of the floor. His record would last only four years before LeBron eclipsed his total by one point in 2016 (291-290). Observed as the two best players the league has seen since Jordan, it’s only right that things played out how they have. Expect Kevin Durant to have his eye on the record very soon, as well.
4. Anthony Davis eclipses 50 (2017)
Before the 66th NBA All-Star Game, Davis made it known that he was looking to earn MVP honors, considering the game was in New Orleans. In the end, he garnered much more than that. He set an All-Star record for shots taken (39) and most points scored (52). The previous record was held by Wilt Chamberlain, who scored 42 points back in 1962. Any record set by Chamberlain is usually a monstrous one, but Davis stayed persistent, shooting the ball almost every time he touched it. Even with his recent trade request, Davis gave the city of New Orleans a moment they won’t forget on that February night.
5. Team LeBron’s crazy comeback (2018)
Last season, for the first time, the NBA allowed the two top vote-getters to draft their own All-Star teams. LeBron James and Steph Curry did their due diligence and put together two competitive squads that had fans eager to watch. The final minutes were nail-biting with LeBron’s group making a ridiculous 28-12 comeback in the final six minutes to win the game, providing the showcase with some actual drama. It was rare to see an All-Star Game so closely contested with the players actually battling to win and playing high-energy defense. As fans, we experienced a high level of competition that this event simply lacked in previous years. All eyes will be on Sunday’s contest to see if it lives up to last year’s standards.
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NBA All-Star Weekend is one of the most beloved times among basketball fans. There is always something special happening, and look for this year to be no different. With the teams that LeBron and Giannis Antetokounmpo have assembled, expect an ultra-competitive affair that looks to build upon what last year created.