By Dave McMenamin, NBA.com
Posted Feb 16 2009 11:57AM
PHOENIX -- The 58th NBA All-Star Game is in the books with the West's 146-119 victory over the East. The final score will be forgotten by Tuesday, when NBA fans turn their attention to trade deadline deals. But these 10 moments from the game will be remembered for years to come.
1. Shaq and Kobe: Co-MVPs
Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant teamed up for the first time since Game 5 of the 2004 NBA Finals and walked away as co-MVPs. Even though the pair hadn't played together in almost five years, it took only 15 seconds to make a play together.
On O'Neal's first touch of the game, he backed down Dwight Howard in the post and spotted a cutting Bryant. O'Neal dropped the ball off to Bryant who got blocked on his layup attempt. The two connected successfully in the third quarter when Bryant drove and dumped it off for O'Neal, who barreled in for the layup and later when Bryant snuck in a difficult entry pass from the top of the key that O'Neal collected and dunked home. Their play in the third turned a five-point game at halftime into a 19-point blowout entering the fourth.
2. Shaq's player introduction
Two years ago in Las Vegas during All-Star weekend, Shaquille O'Neal and Howard broke into an impromptu dance-off that has generated more than 11 million views on YouTube. O'Neal had new dance partners on Sunday. The big "Shaqtus" came out wearing a white mask during player introductions and proceeded to gyrate, shimmy and pop-and-lock his 7-foot-1, 325-pound frame for 76 seconds with members of the JabbaWockeeZ dance troupe. "The game really don't look back on a lot of players once they come through the league, but Shaq is definitely one of those guys that you will always look back on and wish he was still around," LeBron James said.
3. Shaq and Chris Paul Give-and-Go on Howard
O'Neal had to endure the comparisons to Howard all weekend long, and in the third quarter found himself isolated on the wing against his Superman successor. Shaq slipped a bounce pass to Chris Paul through Howard's legs, making the big man's knees buckle, and then rolled to the basket to get the ball back from Paul to finish the play with a rousing dunk. "The give-and-go, that was nice even though I was on the receiving end," Howard said. "That was well thought out and I know Shaq planned the whole thing."
4. The Greatest in Attendance
This list couldn't be all Shaq. Muhammad Ali visited the East and West locker rooms before the game and posed for pictures with players from both rosters. Boston's Kevin Garnett was ecstatic to see Ali, bellowing, "The champ is here! The champ is here!" as the 67-year-old Ali entered the room. The three-time world heavyweight champion occupied a courtside seat during the game and received a hearty ovation when his face was flashed on the video screen while Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem.
5. Happy Birthday, Bill Russell
Celtics great Bill Russell was presented with a 75th birthday cake by current C's Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. On Saturday, commissioner David Stern announced that the NBA Finals MVP would be named the Bill Russell Most Valuable Player Award. Ironically, Russell won 11 championships in his 13 seasons as a player and was a five-time regular season MVP, but never won Finals MVP. "He's done a lot for the game and he's set a bar that is going to be tough for anybody to jump over," Allen said. "We all look up to him as the standard of excellence."
6. Redeem Team reunion
The six All-Stars (Bryant, Howard, James, Paul, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) who were members of the U.S. Senior Men's National Team that won the gold medal in Beijing were presented rings at halftime by USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo.
7. A Global Game
Globalization was a theme of the night, from Tamia Hill singing several verses of "Oh, Canada!" in French and Juanes joining John Legend at halftime and singing parts of Legend's hit "If You're Out There" in Spanish. Yao Ming (China), Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Luis Scola (Argentina) and Marc and Pau Gasol (Spain) were also recognized at halftime for their play in the Olympics wearing their home country's warmups standing next to their nation's flags. "I hope this speaks volumes not just for our community in basketball but our world community too," Phil Jackson said.
8. Barack Obama's message at halftime
President Barack Obama delivered a taped message at halftime calling for service by all citizens. "All of us have it in our power to get off the bench [and] get in the game," Obama said.
9. Spurs booed
The Phoenix faithful didn't treat the game entirely like an exhibition, erupting in a chorus of boos when San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were introduced. The Spurs have eliminated the Suns from the playoffs in three of the last four years.
10. The rest of the best plays
Allen Iverson's show-and-go pass to himself in the first quarter ... Howard stripping Bryant ... Tony Parker's halfcourt alley-oop to Paul ... Paul's double spin move ... Wade's putback dunk on a missed Howard 3-pointer ... Howard's dunk on Duncan ... Howard's block on Yao.
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