With Kevin Durant on course to end LeBron James’ reign as NBA MVP, a new-look Slam Dunk Contest taking place and a host of other events; this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend looks set to be a classic.
The dunk competition will feature three All Stars for the first time in 26 years, while Oklahoma City’s Durant and Miami’s James will use the All Star game to lay down their markers for the remainder of the season, with their teams currrently priced at 9/4 and 4/1 respectively to win the championship.
But, while this year promises to be an event to savour, here we look at five All-Star moments already ingrained in the memory banks.
1962 – Wilt Chamberlain’s record haul of 42
Arguably the NBA’s first ever stand out star, Chamberlain single-handedly kept the East in the 1962 All-Star game in St Louis.
The Philadelphia Warriors centre was the game’s highest scorer by an impressive 10-point margin, marking his progress after taking the Rookie of the Year title two years previously.
The East eventually lost the game 150-130 but Chamberlain’s stand out score of 42 points set him on the road to becoming one of the league’s all-time greats.
1986 – Spud Webb’s Slam Dunk Contest Win
Anthony Jerome ‘Spud’ Webb may not have produced the most memorable dunks on his way to the 1986 title, but with the Atlanta Hawks man standing at 5ft 7in his win certainly sticks in the memory.
Webb stunned everyone, including his Hawks team mate and 1985 champion Dominique Wilkins, with his surprise repertoire of dunks.
An off-the-backboard one-handed jam and a 360-degree one-handed helicopter dunk set Spud on the way to a win that saw him secure two perfect 50-point scores in the final.
He returned to the contest as a coach 20 years later and oversaw a win for New York Knicks point guard Nate Robinson, who stood at 5ft 9in.
Both players remain the only dunk contest winners in NBA history under six feet tall.
1998 – Everyone wants to be like Mike
Little can be said about Michael Jordan that hasn’t been said before but his overall performance at the 1998 weekend is a highlight even in his career.
As well as taking the dunk contest crown, the Chicago Bulls legend produced a match-winning display with 40 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and four steals to help the East secure a 138-133 win over their Western Conference rivals.
MJ was given the game’s MVP award to round off what was a perfect All-Star Weekend.
2003 – MJ’s last hurrah
While the 1998 event goes down as MJ’s best ever, his final All-Star appearance in 2003 showed that the then Washington Wizards man still dominated despite calling time on his glittering career.
A 20-point haul from Jordan, plus 35 from Allen Iverson and 29 from Tracey McGrady, wasn’t enough to secure a win for the East but a perfect fade-away jumper from MJ forced the first of two overtimes to ensure maximum exposure for the game’s biggest player on his All-Star bow.
2006 – LeBron’s record-breaking MVP
As one of a very small group of players with claims to Jordan’s crown, LeBron set his stall out early by becoming the youngest player ever to win an All-Star game MVP in 2006.
While ‘King James’ went on to land the accolade on numerous occasions – and no doubt has plenty more to come – this game stands out as an example of the threat he posed, even at the tender age of 21.
A total of 29 points and six rebounds from the then Cleveland Cavaliers man helped the East pull back a 21-point third-quarter deficit to beat the West 122-120 and set LeBron on the road to superstardom.
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