NBA All-Star 2021: Ahead of the 2021 All-Star Game, the 70th game in league history, there are far too many classics to include on one list. With that in mind, we take a look at the best All-Star games since the turn of the century.
Prior to the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, there have been 69 previous editions of the mid-season exhibition extravaganza.
Outside of the three most recent All-Star Games, in which the two leading vote-getters served as captains to draft rosters, the Eastern Conference holds a 37-29 edge over its Western Conference counterparts over the 66 games played in the traditional format.
Although the recent high-scoring lopsided East vs. West battles are what led to the introduction of a new playground-style format to decide the teams, there have been a number of entertaining contests since 2000 that are considered among the Greatest All-Star Games in NBA history.
Here’s a look at some of them:
2001 – AI spurs biggest comeback ever
With nine minutes remaining in the game, the Eastern Conference trailed by 21 points.
Against a star-studded Western Conference that included big men like Tim Duncan, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, David Robinson, and Shaquille O’Neal, Iverson scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and led the biggest comeback in NBA All-Star history at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C.
20 years ago today, Allen Iverson scored 15 PTS in the 4th quarter of the largest comeback in NBA All-Star game history.
The 2001 game is also known as one of the best All-Star games ever.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 11, 2021
The West had a chance in the final possession to win it but failed to connect and The East won 111-110 as Iverson won his first of two All-Star MVPs.
2003 – MJ’s Finale
In the last of Michael Jordan’s 14 All-Star game appearances, the game and the show didn’t disappoint. The six-time NBA Champion was honored throughout the night at Philips Arena in Atlanta, including a halftime performance by then two-time (now five-time) Grammy award-winner Mariah Carey.
It is one of just six overtime games in NBA All-Star history and the only NBA All-Star Game that needed a second overtime period.
After failing to nail the game-winner in regulation, Jordan knocked down a baseline fade-away over Shawn Marion that gave the East a 138-136 lead with 4.8 seconds remaining in OT. Just like his playing career with the Chicago Bulls, it would have been poetic had it ended there.
Kobe Bryant was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer. He made two of three attempts, forcing double-overtime. Kevin Garnett, who caught fire late, was named All-Star Game MVP for his 37 as Jordan finished with 20 in the West’s 156-145 win.
2006 – LeBron’s First MVP
The game at Toyota Center in Houston is among the closest All-Stars Games ever and one of only four (2001, 2006, 2020) since 2000 to be decided by two points or less.
It was the first time the East had won consecutive All-Star Games since 1997 and 1998.
At 21 years and 51 days, LeBron James became the youngest-ever All-Star Game MVP. James finished with 29 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the East’s 122-120 win.
2010 – A Record Crowd
In front of a record crowd of 108,713 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, TX, the All-Stars put on a show.
The 141-139 win for the East was among the closest All-Stars Games ever and another one of only four (2001, 2006, 2020) since 2000 to be decided by two points or less.
Dwyane Wade, the game’s top scorer with 28, did a little bit of everything (11 assists, six rebounds, five steals) to earn his first and only All-Star Game MVP Award.
2020 – The First Elam Ending
The first two All-Star Games under the new team captain format yielded mixed results as the first game in Los Angeles (2018) came down to the final possession but the same can’t be said of the game in Charlotte (2019).
The NBA decided to change things around in 2020, adopting the Elam Ending, a new format in which the first team to reach a target score in an untimed fourth quarter would be determined as the winner.
The target score would be 24 points more than the leading team’s cumulative score through three quarters, a figure chosen in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.
The new format brought the best of every player on the floor, creating a playoff-like atmosphere to provide not only one of the greatest All-Star Games in recent history but in the history of the league.
In a game in which nine first-time All-Stars took the floor at the United Center in Chicago, Kawhi Leonard won the first-ever NBA All-Star Game Kobe Bryant MVP Award. Kawhi finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals in Team LeBron’s 157-155 win over Team Giannis.