1971 -- All-Star Game Silver Anniversary in San Diego
Standing 7-foot-2, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar possessed a feathery touch from the free throw line, shooting 72 percent for his career. Having converted a five-foot jumper while being fouled to knot the game at 107 with 48 seconds to play, Abdul-Jabbar put his deft touch to use and calmly sank the go-ahead free throw for the last of his 19 points to lead the West to victory and break the Eastern Conference’s three year stranglehold on the mid-year game. Despite Abdul-Jabbar’s heroics, teammate Lenny Wilkens’ 21 points garnered him the game MVP. Fresh off his historic tri-MVP season in which he won the regular season, All-Star and NBA Finals MVPs, New York’s Willis Reed posted a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds) in his final All-Star appearance. Abdul-Jabbar, meanwhile, would appear in a whopping 17 more All-Star Games.
- - John Hareas, NBA.com
1972 -- Jerry West drains last-second jumper to give West 112-110 win
Jerry West built a reputation as the most clutch shooter in the history of the NBA. At the 1972 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, the legendary Lakers’ guard gave the world an up close view of something the hometown crowd had become accustomed to seeing.
Two years after hitting nothing but net on a 60-foot heave that tied Game 3 of the 1970 Finals against the Knicks, West was up to his old tricks again.
The East’s Dave Cowens knocked down an outside shot with 11 seconds remaining in regulation to knot the score at 110-110.
This set the stage for West to play the role of hero. He freed himself up from his defender and drained a 20-foot, last-second jumper to give the Western Conference a two-point victory.
His stat line: 13 points, six rebounds and five assists put him in contention for the game’s Most Valuable Player award. The game-winning shot made sure that he got to take the trophy home.
- - Maurice Brooks, NBA.com
1977 -- First All-Star Game after the merger
Whether it was flying down the lane for a momentum-changing dunk or soaring to the rim for a “How’d-he-do-that?” reverse layup, Julius Erving established himself as the most exciting player in the ABA.
Sure his reputation was built on his ability to do everything on the court with flair, but “Dr. J’s” game had plenty of substance, too.
How else do you explain Erving winning three scoring titles, being named league MVP three times and leading his team to two championships in five ABA seasons?
The ABA merged with the NBA prior to the 1976-77 season, giving Erving a bigger stage to showcase his unworldly talents. He held his official coming-out party on Feb. 13, 1977 at the NBA All-Star Game in Milwaukee.
Erving shook loose for 30 points, led everyone with 12 rebounds and added four steals. Although his Eastern Conference squad lost 125-124 to the West, it didn’t matter. The game belonged to the player known for making house calls.
- - Maurice Brooks, NBA.com
1978 -- Randy Smith's out-of-nowhere MVP performance
At the first quarter buzzer, he swished a 30-footer. And to end the first-half, he dropped a 40-foot bomb.
That was just the beginning.
Randy Smith, the smallest and least known star among the 1978 constellation of NBA All-Stars such as Julius Erving and Rick Barry, soared his way to the MVP. The 6-3 guard played for the Buffalo Braves and scored a game-high 27 points on 11-14 shooting, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists.
Smith’s spectacular performance was the last hurrah for NBA basketball in Buffalo -- as the franchise at season’s end moved to become the San Diego Clippers and then moved again to Los Angeles. Prior to entering the NBA in 1971, Smith was a local legend at Buffalo State University. He was quick on his feet and fast with his hands but still was not expected to make much of an impact in the NBA as evidenced by his seventh-round selection.
However, Smith came off the bench with a blur of activity that day in Atlanta. The only deterrent seemed to be the established practice of permitting just six fouls per contest -- he accumulated five in one half. Smith dominated the end of the game as well keying an East comeback by scoring eight straight fourth-quarter points to secure a 133-125 victory.
- -Martin Sumners, NBA.com
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