The 2014 NBA All-Star game will be the 63rd edition of the best exhibition event in North American sports, as a few players will try to join Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players with 40 points or more in the event. With Kevin Durant having the year he’s having, and LeBron James obviously capable, we might see a third player join that extremely short list.
There have been some great performances over the years from others: Kevin Garnett, Rick Barry, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady, but Durant and James, who are on this list for their 2012 game, might improve their standing even further if they choose to ignore everyone around them in a game where it’s allowed to do so.
LeBron James & Kevin Durant (2012) – 36 Points
The 2012 All-Star game will be remembered for a couple of things: Kevin Durant putting on a show and pretty much stealing it away from Kobe Bryant, not used to seeing someone hog the ball more than him in such an event, and LeBron James passing up the opportunity to tie the game with the final shot, instead trying to find Carmelo Anthony.
It was once again the Heat taking things serious a bit too late, cutting it down to 152-149, as Durant finished with a 36-7-3 stat line while James had 36 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, while Wade finished with a triple double. Durant ended up with the MVP award.
Tracy McGrady (2006), 36 Points
The East won in 2006 with LeBron James picking up the MVP award, as the East came back from a 17 points deficit in the first half, coming away with the 122-120 win. Tracy McGrady, playing for the Houston Rockets at the time, put on quite the show with 36 points, sticking strictly to scoring, not grabbing a single rebound and finishing with only 2 assists.
McGrady was the only player on the Western team to score more than 15 points, while LeBron James had 29 for the East, helped by Dwyane Wade scoring 20 points. The Game was played in Houston, giving McGrady some sort of incentive to put on his best performance.
Kobe Bryant (2011), 37 Points
Kobe Bryant decided to make the 2011 All-Star game in Los Angeles all about him. He scored 37 points on 14-of-26 from the field, grabbing 14 rebounds and not seeing anything but the basket and the MVP from the moment the game began.
Like in most years, the East made a game of it only in the final quarter as LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire each scored 29 points. Kevin Durant gave Bryant a run for his money with 34, but in front of his home fans, no one was taking the MVP away from Bryant in a 148-143 win.
Kevin Garnett (2003), 37 Points
The 2003 All-Star game in Atlanta needed two overtimes to be decided, with the West coming away with the 155-145 win. Michael Jordan played for the last time in the event, scoring 20 points. Allen Iverson had 35 for the East. However, this was Kevin Garnett’s night, as the Timberwolves star scored 37 points to go with his 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals.
Tracy McGrady, then playing for the Magic, had 29 points, while Kobe Bryant and Steve Francis on the Western side scored 22 and 20 respectively. This was the beginning of Yao Ming’s voting dominance for a few years, sending Shaquille O’Neal to start off the bench thanks to the Chinese support.
Rick Barry (1967), 38 Points
Rick Barry led the West to a 135-120 win, winning the MVP in the game played in San Francisco, making it only natural that the Warriors star takes over. He had 38 points, enjoying playing with teammate Nate Thurmond, while Elgin Baylor of the Lakers had 20 points and Dave DeBusschere of Detroit (then in the West) scored 22 points.
The East were led by Oscar Robertson with 26 points, while Hal Greer had 17 points and Wilt Chamberlain scored 14. Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas were coming off the bench for the East.
Michael Jordan (1988), 40 Points
Michael Jordan couldn’t be left out of this list, putting on his greatest All-Star performance in 1988, when the game was held in Chicago. He led the East to a 138-133 win, scoring 40 points, adding 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals and 4 blocks, playing alongside Dominique Wilkins (29 points), Larry Bird (6 points), Isiah Thomas (8 points) and Moses Malone (7 points) in the lineup. The bench had stars like Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Kevin McHale.
For the West, it was a lot more evenly shared – eight players scoring in double figures, including the entire lineup of Magic Johnson (17), Karl Malone (22), Fat Lever (17), Hakeem Olajuwon (21) and Alex English (10).
Wilt Chamberlain (1962), 42 Points
The NBA wasn’t ready and couldn’t cope with the Wilt Chamberlain phenomenon during his early years in the league. In 1962 he was at his most unstoppable, averaging 50.4 points in the regular season and also having his still NBA-record 100 points game. The All-Star game was held in Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO. Despite his 42 points, Bob Pettit, leading the West to a 150-130 win, won the MVP.
Wilt led the East with 42 points and 24 rebounds, helped by Bob Cousy, Richie Guerin, Tom Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Hal Greer and Sam Jones. On the West, Baylor led the way with 32 points, while Oscar Robertson (26), Walt Bellamy (23) and Jerry West (18) had great games as well.