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NBA: Greatest All-Star Games ever

The 2023 NBA All-Star Game takes place on Monday at the Vivint Smart Arena in Salt Lake City as Team Giannis take on Team LeBron in the showpiece exhibition event.

Team Giannis are rated at 13/10 to win the All-Star Game in the Money Line and Team LeBron are 4/6.

WhatTeam Giannis @ Team LeBron
WhereVivint Arena, Salt Lake City
When00:30, Monday 20th February
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, Sky Sports, NBA Pass
OddsTeam Giannis 13/10, Team LeBron 4/6

With the best players in the league on display, entertainment is essentially guaranteed and there have been some incredible All-Star Games over the years and we’ve picked out some of the greatest ever contests ahead of the 72nd edition of the event.

The early classics

1951 - The first All-Star Game

In 1951, The NBA decided to take inspiration from MLB which had already established an All-Star Game, in a move backed by then Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown.

The idea was an instant success and attracted a crowd of over 10,000 - comfortably over twice the average attendance in the league at the time - and a new tradition was born.

1964 - Robertson stars after player fallout

The 1964 All-Star Game was the first to be televised, but it came close to being abandoned as the players had agreed to go on strike.

Ultimately, the event went ahead and the legendary Oscar Robertson led the Eastern Conference to a 111-107 victory with 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.

1977 - The League merger

In 1976 the NBA and the now defunct ABA merged into one league and the 1977 All-Star Game was iconic as it was the first time players formerly of the ABA had been involved.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was one of the former ABA players who stole the show, as Julius Erving picked up the MVP award, with ‘Dr J’ hitting 30 points and adding 12 rebounds.

The superstars of the 80s

1980 - the Bird v Johnson rivalry

The 1980 All-Star game saw Larry Bird and Magic Johnson line-up against each other in the East and West respectively.

Both players were in their rookie seasons and the duo would go on to share one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the league.

1985 - the infamous Jordan ‘freeze out’

In 1985, Michael Jordan was selected as an All-Star starter in his rookie season, but some of the more established stars were apparently unhappy about his inclusion.

Isaiah Thomas, Magic Johnson and George Gervin allegedly decided to embarrass Jordan by freezing him out of the game. Whether this was the case or not remains unclear, but there can be no denying the bitter rivalry that existed between Jordan and Thomas.

Jordan’s Chicago Bulls faced Thomas and the Detroit Pistons immediately after the All-Star break in 1985, with Jordan producing arguably the best display of his career at that point with 49 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and four steals as the Bulls went on to win in overtime.

1988 - A vintage Jordan display

By 1988, Jordan was one of the biggest stars in the league but he was yet to claim a first championship.

The 1987-88 season was possibly his real breakout year as he won the MVP award and Defensive Player of the Year honour for the first time, and produced a masterclass in the All-Star game and the Dunk Contest that year.

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Classic encounters of the 90s

1992 - Magic Johnson rolls back the years

Magic Johnson had been forced into retirement a few months before the 1992 All-Star game, but he returned to the court for the exhibition event.

Johnson guided the West to a 153–113 win and was named All-Star MVP after finishing with 25 points, nine assists, and five rebounds. The game ended with a last-gasp three-pointer from Johnson and players from both teams ran over to congratulate him at the conclusion of the game.

1997 - 50th anniversary celebrations

In 1997 the All-Star Game celebrated its 50th anniversary and Jordan made history by recording a first triple-double in the event, with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

The modern era

2009 - Kobe and Shaq

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal are widely regarded as one of the greatest duos in NBA history from their time at the Los Angeles Lakers together but their relationship soured in the early 2000s and Shaq moved to Miami Heat in 2004.

Shaq then joined Phoenix in 2008, meaning he was on the Western Conference All-Star roster with Bryant in 2009 as the pair finally made amends. Bryant had 27 points and Shaq starred from the bench, with the duo sharing MVP honours.

2020 - A modern classic

The 2020 All-Star Game may well be the greatest of all time and it was an emotional occasion as well. The event came just a few months after Bryant’s untimely passing and the NBA paid tribute by naming the MVP award after the Lakers legend.

The rules were also twisted, in a nod to Bryant’s legendary competitive spirit, so the team that led at the end of the third quarter only had to score 24 more points to win - as 24 had been Bryant’s number from 2006 to 2016.

That saw one of the most intense defensive displays ever witnessed in an All-Star game, with Team LeBron eventually edging out Team Giannis 157-155.

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