Run & Gun
NBA All-Star Weekend wasn't always about dunk contests and making it rain. Here's how it became the biggest and baddest exhibition game in sports.
Featuring a lack of fan interest would embarass the fledgling league, NBA commissioner Mo Podoloff almost cancels the first All-Star game. Hey, have you committed names like Red Rocha and Duke Eddleman to memory? Exactly.
St. Louis '62
Philadelphia Warriors rookie Wilt Chamberlain shows an early penchant for big numbers (we're not talking about that type of "scoring") with a then-ASG record 42 points for the East. The Big Dipper's big digits are wasted, however, in a 150-130 West victory.
With the league low on star power but high on cocaine, the East triumphs 104-84 in the lowest-scoring ASG of the shot-clock era.
The ninth and final ABA All-Star game features a pregame concert (headlined by pop-country pimp Glen Campbell) and the first-ever dunk contest. Julius Erving takes off from the foul line, and the struggling NBA takes notice.
Spud Webb wins the dunk contest, and Isiah Thomas takes the game MVP. But the baddest man on the court is Larry Bird. Before winning the three-point shootout, he asks in the locker room, "Which one of you motherfuckers is going to finish second?"
Michael Jordan wins an epic battle with Dominique Wilkins for the slam-dunk crown, then takes MVP honors on his home floor. Hasn't 'Nique heard of the Jordan Rules?
After announcing in November 1991 that he was HIV positive, Earvin "Magic" Johnson retires from the NBA. But just three months later, a healthy, still-smiling Magic returns, swishing fade-away three pointers at will and winning the MVP award. Next stop: The Dream Team.
Phoenix '95/San Antonio '96
"Hey, you know what All-Star jerseys need? Region-specific vegetation!" We're not sure which NBA official said this, but we got purple-and-orange cactus runs unis in '95 and teal uniforms adorned with a giant chili pepper in '96. And David Stern is worried about what his players wear off the court?
C-listers like Cedric Ceballos, Harold Miner, and Brent Barry do their damnedest to kill the dunk contest. Enter Vince Carter: The 360 windmill; the between-the-legs-alley-oop; the elbow hang. Best dunker of his generation? Maybe the best ever.
Washington, D.C. '01
Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury - all tats, swagger, and head-snapping handles - confirm the league's hip-hop takeover, leading the East out of a 21-point fourth-quarter hole in the best ASG finish ever. Kobe Bryant has the ball for the last shot...and he passes. Hasn't happened since.
Throwbacks are en vogue and everyone's rocking Mitchell & Nes, but on the court, the past is no match for the present. Kobe is booed by his "hometown" crowd as he lifts the MVP, while Michael Jordan returns again and blows a wide-open dunk.
Check out a preview of the 2008 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest