There’s no question that Sunday night’s All-Star game was one for the ages, as statistical records were broken all over the place. It was the most total points scored in a game, Carmelo Anthony broke the record for three-pointers in an All-Star game, Blake Griffin broke the record for most made field goals and the Eastern Conference scored more points than any other All-Star team in the history of the NBA.
Kyrie Irving was named the MVP after contributing 31 points and 14 rebounds in the East win, but it could have been any of a number of guys. Griffin scored 18 points in the first quarter and 38 points in the game, while his Western Conference teammate Kevin Durant also scored 38 and hauled in 10 rebounds. Anthony hit the eight three-pointers on his way to 30 points, and LeBron James finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
It was, put bluntly, an extremely memorable game, but there have been a lot of memorable games over the years. Here’s a look at some of the most impressive All-Star showings in league history:
#5 – Kyrie Irving (2014)
31 points, 14 assists, 5 rebounds
An earlier draft of this list had Isiah Thomas’ 30-point, 10-assist game filling the fifth spot, but Irving one-upped him and relegated his predecessor to honorable mention. Irving had a monster game, not only filling up the stat sheet but dazzling the crowd with jaw-dropping crossovers, poetic up-and-under layups and, of course, several clutch shots to fuel an Eastern Conference comeback win. Nobody picked the East to win this game to a clearly superior Western Conference, but Irving helped make it possible, putting up one of the all-time great stat lines in the process.
#4 – Wilt Chamberlain (1962)
42 points, 24 rebounds
To this day, Wilt’s 42 points remains the record for most individual points scored in an All-Star game, but in the ‘60s Wilt did this sort of thing all the time. The numbers are crazy, like they always are, but Wilt’s Eastern Conference team didn’t win this game, nor did he win All-Star MVP. But still, 42 points!
#3 – Kobe Bryant (2011)
37 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
This was a game in which Kobe Bryant was playing about two gears harder than everybody else on the floor, which is how he ended up with one of the most insane stat lines in All-Star game history. This one was played on his home floor in L.A., so he had the home crowd fueling his big night. Kobe would earn his fourth All-Star game MVP that night, which moved him into a first place tie (with Bob Pettit) for most career All-Star MVP awards.
#2 – Michael Jordan (1988)
40 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 4 blocks
What else was Jordan supposed to do the year that the All-Star game was in Chicago? Not only did His Airness win the dunk contest that year with his iconic free-throw line jam, but he also put up an absolutely dominant statistical performance in front of the home crowd. In a career full of memorable All-Star appearances, this was Jordan’s best, and one of the best ever.
#1 – Magic Johnson (1992)
25 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds
After contracting HIV, Johnson retired from basketball in 1991, but that didn’t stop the fans from voting him into that season’s All-Star game as a starter. There were plenty of people who didn’t think he should play in that game, but not only did he play, he played really, really well. The West routed the East that year by 40 points, but the game was about more than just a big statistical showing from Magic; it was about friends and fans rallying around an NBA legend at a time when he really needed the support. The fact that Johnson put on such a magical performance made it all the more memorable.
Allen Iverson (2001)
25 points, 5 assists, 4 steals
In one of the most exciting All-Star games in league history, Iverson scored 15 of his 25 points in the game’s final nine minutes to fuel an Eastern Conference comeback from 21 down earlier in the quarter. Yes, the East ended up winning by a single point, and yes Iverson was named the game’s MVP.
Isiah Thomas (1986)
30 points, 10 assists, 5 steals
Down seven with about four minutes left in the game, Thomas turned it on to help fuel a comeback for what would eventually be an Eastern Conference win. More importantly, though, Thomas ended up scoring 30 points and dishing out 10 dimes, which, before Sunday night, was the only time in league history that such a statistical achievement has ever been managed. The five steals didn’t hurt anything, either, and Thomas was a no-brainer game MVP that year.
Without a doubt, 2014 was an All-Star game for the record books, but it’s just one of many memorable games in league history. Future games can do nothing but make this list even more interesting.
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