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The NBA All-Star Game is an exhibition game hosted annually by the National Basketball Association (NBA), matching the league's star players from the Eastern Conference against their counterparts from the Western Conference. It is the featured event of NBA All-Star Weekend. The All-Star game was first staged at the Boston Garden on March 2, 1951.
The starting lineup for each squad is selected by a fan ballot, while the reserves are chosen by a vote among the head coaches from each squad's respective conference. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players. If a selected player is injured and cannot participate, the NBA commissioner selects a replacement.
The head coach of the team with the best record in each conference is chosen as the coach of their respective conference in the All-Star Game. However, regardless of record, a head coach cannot serve as an All-Star head coach in two consecutive seasons. Known as the "Riley Rule", it is due to the fact that former head coach Pat Riley's Los Angeles Lakers teams of the 1980s won so often that Riley ended up earning the right to coach the Western Conference team eight times in nine seasons (1982 to 1990). In the event a coach's team repeats as the best record holder, the head coach from the team with the second-best record will serve as All-Star coach for that conference.
The idea of holding an All-Star Game was conceived during a meeting between NBA President Maurice Podoloff, NBA publicity director Haskell Cohen and Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown. At that time, the basketball world had just been stunned by the college basketball point-shaving scandal.
In order to regain public attention to the league, Cohen suggested the league to host an exhibition game featuring the league's best players, similar to the Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. Although most people, including Podoloff, were pessimistic about the idea, Brown remained confident that it would be a success, and he even offered to host the game and to cover all the expenses or potential losses incurred from the game. In the first All-Star Game, the Eastern All-Stars team defeated the Western All-Stars team 111–94.
Boston Celtics' Ed Macauley was named as the first NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, and the All-Star Game became a success, drawing an attendance of 10,094, much higher than that season's average attendance of 3,500.
Fans vote on the starters for the game, selecting three frontcourt players and two guards from each conference. Prior to 2013, fans selected two forwards and one center instead of generic frontcourt players. The NBA in 2003 began offering All-Star ballots in three languages—English, Spanish and Chinese—for fan voting of the starters.
NBA coaches vote for the reserves for their respective conferences, none of which can be players on their own team. Each coach selects two guards, three frontcourt players and two wild cards, with each selected player ranked in order of preference within each category. If a multi-position player is to be selected, coaches are encouraged to vote for the player at the position that is "most advantageous for the All-Star team", regardless of where the player is listed on the All-Star ballot or the position he is listed in box scores.
The Game is played under normal NBA rules, but there are notable differences from an average game. Since the starting All-Stars are selected by fan vote, players sometimes start the game at atypical positions. For instance, in 2007 Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady had the two highest fan vote totals among Western Conference guards. As both players normally play shooting guard, Bryant, who is 6'6" (198 cm), started the game as a point guard, despite him also manning the shooting guard position on his team.
The player introductions are usually accompanied by a significant amount of fanfare, including lighting effects, dance music, and pyrotechnics. Special uniforms are designed for the game each year, usually red for the Western Conference and blue for the Eastern Conference, but the 1997–2002 games allowed players the opportunity to wear their respective team uniforms, and until 2009 the host conference wore light uniforms. Originally players from the same team who share a number have the option to either keep or change numbers (e.g. Patrick Ewing trading his familiar #33 for #3 because of Larry Bird wearing the same number), but since 1997 players from the same team can keep their customary uniform numbers even if they share them. A major recording artist typically sings "O Canada" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to tipoff. One of the more memorable performances was given by Marvin Gaye during the 1983 game; Gaye was accompanied by Gordon Banks, who played a tape from an all night session that used numerous elements of soul music and funk, and Banks still has that historic tape of the music to which Gaye sang his soulful version.
Gameplay usually involves players attempting spectacular slam dunks and alley oops. Defensive effort is usually limited and the final score of the game is generally much higher than an average NBA game. The coaches also try to give most of the reserve players some time on the court instead of using a limited rotation as they would in a normal game. The fourth quarter of the game is often played in a more competitive fashion, if the game is close.
Halftime is also longer than a typical NBA game due to musical performances by popular artists. Recent guests have included Elton John, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, OutKast, Alicia Keys, Shakira, John Legend, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Kendrick Lamar and Christina Aguilera.
This is a list of each All-Star Game, the venue at which it was played, and the Game MVP. Parenthesized numbers indicate multiple times that venue, city, or player has occurred as of that instance (e.g. "Michael Jordan (2)" in 1996 indicates that was his second All-Star MVP award). As of the 2014 All-Star Game (the 2013/14 NBA season)[update], the Eastern Conference leads with a record of 37 wins and 26 losses.
|Year||Result||Host arena||Host city||Game MVP|
|1951||East 111, West 94||Boston Garden||Boston, MA||Ed Macauley, Boston Celtics|
|1952||East 108, West 91||Boston Garden (2)||Boston, MA (2)||Paul Arizin, Philadelphia Warriors|
|1953||West 79, East 75||Allen County War Memorial Coliseum||Fort Wayne, IN||George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers|
|1954||East 98, West 93 (OT)||Madison Square Garden (1925)**||New York, NY||Bob Cousy, Boston Celtics|
|1955||East 100, West 91||Madison Square Garden (1925)** (2)||New York, NY (2)||Bill Sharman, Boston Celtics|
|1956||West 108, East 94||Rochester War Memorial Coliseum||Rochester, NY||Bob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks|
|1957||East 109, West 97||Boston Garden (3)||Boston, MA (3)||Bob Cousy (2), Boston Celtics|
|1958||East 130, West 118||St. Louis Arena||St. Louis, MO||Bob Pettit (2), St. Louis Hawks|
|1959||West 124, East 108||Olympia Stadium||Detroit, MI||Elgin Baylor, Minneapolis Lakers|
Bob Pettit (3), St. Louis Hawks
|1960||East 125, West 115||Convention Hall||Philadelphia, PA||Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors|
|1961||West 153, East 131||Onondaga County War Memorial Coliseum||Syracuse, NY||Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals|
|1962||West 150, East 130||St. Louis Arena (2)||St. Louis, MO (2)||Bob Pettit (4), St. Louis Hawks|
|1963||East 115, West 108||LA Sports Arena||Los Angeles, CA||Bill Russell, Boston Celtics|
|1964||East 111, West 107||Boston Garden (4)||Boston, MA (4)||Oscar Robertson (2), Cincinnati Royals|
|1965||East 124, West 123||St. Louis Arena (3)||St. Louis, MO (3)||Jerry Lucas, Cincinnati Royals|
|1966||East 137, West 94||Cincinnati Gardens||Cincinnati, OH||Adrian Smith, Cincinnati Royals|
|1967||West 135, East 120||Cow Palace||Daly City, CA||Rick Barry, San Francisco Warriors|
|1968||East 144, West 124||Madison Square Garden (1925)** (3)||New York, NY (3)||Hal Greer, Philadelphia 76ers|
|1969||East 123, West 112||Baltimore Civic Center||Baltimore, MD||Oscar Robertson (3), Cincinnati Royals|
|1970||East 142, West 135||The Spectrum||Philadelphia, PA (2)||Willis Reed, New York Knicks|
|1971||West 108, East 107||San Diego Sports Arena||San Diego, CA||Lenny Wilkens, Seattle SuperSonics|
|1972||West 112, East 110||The Forum||Inglewood, CA||Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers|
|1973||East 104, West 84||Chicago Stadium||Chicago, IL||Dave Cowens, Boston Celtics|
|1974||West 134, East 123||Seattle Center Coliseum||Seattle, WA||Bob Lanier, Detroit Pistons|
|1975||East 108, West 102||Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum||Phoenix, AZ||Walt Frazier, New York Knicks|
|1976||East 123, West 109||The Spectrum (2)||Philadelphia, PA (3)||Dave Bing, Washington Bullets|
|1977||West 125, East 124||Milwaukee Arena||Milwaukee, WI||Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers|
|1978||East 133, West 125||Omni Coliseum||Atlanta, GA||Randy Smith, Buffalo Braves|
|1979||West 134, East 129||Pontiac Silverdome||Pontiac, MI†||David Thompson, Denver Nuggets|
|1980||East 144, West 136 (OT)||Capital Centre||Landover, MD||George Gervin, San Antonio Spurs|
|1981||East 123, West 120||Coliseum at Richfield||Richfield, OH||Nate Archibald, Boston Celtics|
|1982||East 120, West 118||Brendan Byrne Arena||East Rutherford, NJ||Larry Bird, Boston Celtics|
|1983||East 132, West 123||The Forum (2)||Inglewood, CA (2)||Julius Erving (2), Philadelphia 76ers|
|1984||East 154, West 145 (OT)||McNichols Sports Arena||Denver, CO||Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons|
|1985||West 140, East 129||Hoosier Dome||Indianapolis, IN†||Ralph Sampson, Houston Rockets|
|1986||East 139, West 132||Reunion Arena||Dallas, TX||Isiah Thomas (2), Detroit Pistons|
|1987||West 154, East 149 (OT)||Kingdome||Seattle, WA† (2)||Tom Chambers, Seattle SuperSonics|
|1988||East 138, West 133||Chicago Stadium (2)||Chicago, IL (2)||Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls|
|1989||West 143, East 134||Astrodome||Houston, TX†||Karl Malone, Utah Jazz|
|1990||East 130, West 113||Miami Arena||Miami, FL||Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Lakers|
|1991||East 116, West 114||Charlotte Coliseum||Charlotte, NC||Charles Barkley, Philadelphia 76ers|
|1992||West 153, East 113||Orlando Arena||Orlando, FL||Magic Johnson (2), Los Angeles Lakers|
|1993||West 135, East 132 (OT)||Delta Center||Salt Lake City, UT||Karl Malone (2), Utah Jazz|
John Stockton, Utah Jazz
|1994||East 127, West 118||Target Center||Minneapolis, MN||Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls|
|1995||West 139, East 112||America West Arena||Phoenix, AZ (2)||Mitch Richmond, Sacramento Kings|
|1996||East 129, West 118||Alamodome||San Antonio, TX||Michael Jordan (2), Chicago Bulls|
|1997||East 132, West 120||Gund Arena||Cleveland, OH||Glen Rice, Charlotte Hornets|
|1998||East 135, West 114||Madison Square Garden***||New York, NY (4)||Michael Jordan (3), Chicago Bulls|
|1999||Canceled due to the league's lockout.|
The game was originally set to play at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
|2000||West 137, East 126||The Arena in Oakland||Oakland, CA||Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs|
Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
|2001||East 111, West 110||MCI Center||Washington, DC||Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers|
|2002||West 135, East 120||First Union Center||Philadelphia, PA (4)||Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers|
|2003||West 155, East 145 (2 OT)||Philips Arena||Atlanta, GA (2)||Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves|
|2004||West 136, East 132||Staples Center||Los Angeles, CA (2)||Shaquille O'Neal (2), Los Angeles Lakers|
|2005||East 125, West 115||Pepsi Center||Denver, CO (2)||Allen Iverson (2), Philadelphia 76ers|
|2006||East 122, West 120||Toyota Center||Houston, TX (2)||LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2007||West 153, East 132||Thomas & Mack Center||Las Vegas, NV*||Kobe Bryant (2), Los Angeles Lakers|
|2008||East 134, West 128||New Orleans Arena||New Orleans, LA||LeBron James (2), Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2009||West 146, East 119||US Airways Center (2)||Phoenix, AZ (3)||Kobe Bryant (3), Los Angeles Lakers|
Shaquille O'Neal (3), Phoenix Suns
|2010||East 141, West 139||Cowboys Stadium||Arlington, TX#†||Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat|
|2011||West 148, East 143||Staples Center (2)||Los Angeles, CA (3)||Kobe Bryant (4), Los Angeles Lakers|
|2012||West 152, East 149||Amway Center||Orlando, FL (2)||Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder|
|2013||West 143, East 138||Toyota Center (2)||Houston, TX (3)||Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers|
|2014||East 163, West 155||Smoothie King Center (2)||New Orleans, LA (2)||Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2015||West vs. East||Madison Square Garden*** (2)||New York, NY (5)||TBA|
|2016||West vs. East||Air Canada Centre||Toronto, ON||TBA|
The All-Star Game is the featured event of All-Star Weekend, and it is held on a Sunday night. All-Star Weekend also includes a number of popular exhibition games and competitions featuring NBA players and alumni as well as players from the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) and NBA Development League (D-League).