1990s

1991 -- Barkley scores 17 points and hauled in 22 rebounds

sir charles 1991 mvp
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Sir Charles ties All-Star rebound record.

Details:
The 1991 NBA All-Star game from Charlotte was supposed to be Michael Jordan’s triumphant return to his home state of North Carolina. Jordan scored a game-high 26 points but Charles Barkley managed to steal the show (and the game’s MVP award) from his East teammate. Sir Charles dominated the boards and finished with 17 points, 22 rebounds and 4 assists to lead his team to a thrilling 116-114 victory when Kevin Johnson’s three-point attempt for the win missed its mark.

The Round Mound of Rebound’s performance epitomized the hard-working attitude which made him a perennial NBA All-Star. Jordan flew to the hoop for his signature acrobatic drives but was constantly harassed into short misses by the West’s shot-blocking frontcourt of David Robinson and Karl Malone. Luckily for the East, Barkley was there to clean up for Jordan and his teammates. Charles repeatedly corralled his teammate’s errant shots and finished them with ferocious dunks. His 22 rebounds was the most since Wilt Chamberlain snagged the same number in the 1967 game and they helped Barkley win his only All-Star Game MVP award

- - John Jacobson, NBA.com

Top 10 Plays of the 1991 All-Star Game

1991 -- Dee Brown pumps and covers his eyes in winning the Dunk Contest

dee brown:  1991 dunk contest
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Dee Brown wins the 1991 dunk contest.

Details:
Dee Brown was a rookie in 1990-91 out of Jacksonville University who was trying to get burn with Boston Celtics. Boston would finish with the best record in the Atlantic that year and they boasted a lineup that included Reggie Lewis, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish so Brown understandably had trouble finding playing time and respect around the league. That all changed after the 1991 Slam Dunk Contest .

From the start of the contest, Dee Brown was entertaining the crowd by pumping up his trendy Reebok Pumps. He wowed the Charlotte Coliseum with a variety of reverses and alley-oops until only Shawn Kemp stood between him and the dunk crown. Kemp awed the crowd with his awesome power and a monster free throw line dunk but Brown stole the show. For his final dunk he dramatically pumped up his kicks and then soared in for a one-handed jam while covering his eyes with his other arm. It brought the house down and won him the title. "It really gave me confidence that I belonged here. Nobody knew who I was but I ended up having a great rookie year and coming in third in the Rookie of the Year voting, and my game improved after that contest," said Brown.

- - John Jacobson, NBA.com

Best of the 1991 Slam Dunk Contest

1991 -- Craig Hodges hits 19-in-a-row in Three Point Shootout semifinals

craig hodges 3pt shootout
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Craig Hodges hoisted 19 consecutive and the trophy.

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When you think of the great three point shooters in NBA history, the name Craig Hodges probably doesn't come to mind right away. But when it comes to the Three-Point Shootout, Hodges is the best competitor in the contest's history. Hodges is tied with Larry Bird for the most titles (3), was the runner-up twice, and recorded the best round in history when he put up a 25 in the first round in 1986.

But the most impressive feat in the 21-year history of the Three-Point Shootout is Hodges' 19 consecutive makes in the 1991 Semifinals in Charlotte.

Think about that. The man hit 19 straight shots from beyond the NBA three point line. That's tough enough to do just standing in the gym by yourself, but to do it in front of the All-Star crowd with the clock ticking is just ridiculous. The next longest streak ever is 11.

Usually, the crowd starts to get into it when a guy hits four or five in a row. Craig Hodges kept the crowd into it for an additional 14 shots. If there is one record from All-Star Weekend that will never be broken, this is it.

- - John Schuhmann, NBA.com

Top 10 Plays of the 1991 All-Star Game

1992 -- Cedric Ceballos dunks blindfolded

cedric ceballos:  1992 slam dunk
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Ced Ceballos wins the 1992 dunk contest.

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Ten years before Cedric the Entertainer starred in Barbershop in 2002, the Suns’ Cedric Ceballos earned “Entertainer” status during All-Star weekend in Orlando. Ceballos took Dee Brown’s contest-winning blind slam from 1991 a step further and wrapped a black cloth around his eyes, looking like a prisoner walking the plank on a pirate ship. Revisiting Ceballos’ 11-year NBA career that included a 50-point game in 1995, leading the league in field goal percentage in ’92-93 (a rare feat for a 6-6 wingman) and stints with five different teams (Phoenix, L.A. Lakers, Detroit, Dallas, Miami), the thing that stands out the most is his “peek-a-boo” dunk in ’92. The blindfold dunk was reincarnated by Baron Davis in the 2001 slam dunk contest when B-Diddy pulled his headband down over his eyes before muffing a stuff attempt. It was dusted off once again in 2007 when then Celtic Gerald Green paid homage to former Celtic Dee Brown by covering his eyes with his left arm, only this time with the added twist of jumping over Nate Robinson in the process. As for Cedric, he’s still entertaining to this day, serving as the Suns’ in-arena emcee.

Dave McMenamin, NBA.com

Best of the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest

1992 -- Magic Johnson's incredible MVP performance

magic johnson 1992 mvp
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Magic returns to hoist the MVP hardware.

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It was the first time I’d ever seen two grown men kiss. Magic Johnson, playing in his first NBA contest since announcing to the world that he was infected with HIV in November, was voted a starter in the All-Star game despite not playing a game all season. At the time, HIV and AIDS were still a mystery to the general public and some people, NBA players included, thought it would be dangerous to have Magic play in the game at all. Isiah Thomas let it be known from the opening tip that the NBA was welcoming Magic back with open arms by placing a smooch on Johnson’s cheek during the pre-game dap session and all of the fears seemed to dissipate. The kiss was just the start of a game-long love fest for Johnson, culminating in the former Lakers star taking home MVP honors. Magic scored 25 points and the West won, 153-113, despite the final horn never sounding. In the game’s final minute, with the crowd on its feet, Johnson matched up with Thomas and Michael Jordan on consecutive defensive possessions and stopped them both. Then, with 15 seconds left, Magic dropped in a rainbow three with Thomas in his grille, capping a memorable night for both him personally and the league as a whole. (To this day Commissioner Stern says the league working with Magic to increase AIDS awareness might be the proudest accomplishment of his tenure.) Players from both teams stormed the court to congratulate him and the 1992 NBA All-Star game ended up only lasting for 47 minutes and 45 seconds of playing time. “It was the first game ever called on account of hugs,” Johnson later said.

- - Dave McMenamin, NBA.com

This Day in NBA History: Simply Magic | Top 10 Plays of the 1992 All-Star Game

1993 -- Karl Malone and John Stockton share MVP honors

stockton and malone: mvps
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Stocton and Malone share the MVP.

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The 1993 NBA All-Star Game from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah was certainly a star-studded affair. Eleven players combined from both teams would be named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team three years later. The East staged a furious comeback at the end of regulation capped off by Michael Jordan feeding Patrick Ewing for an open jumper to force overtime.

Overtime belonged to the hometown duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone. Stockton scored four points in the extra period and handed out two dimes and Malone finished the game with 28 points on 11-of-17 from the field with seven of his buckets coming on assists from his Utah teammate. Their crunch time performances earned them co-All-Star Game MVPs - - the first time the award had been shared by teammates in the history of the game. Though both pushing 30, the tandem would play together another decade for the Jazz, leading them to two NBA Finals appearances.

John Jacobson, NBA.com

Top 10 Plays of the 1993 All-Star Game | Best of the 1993 Slam Dunk Contest

1994 -- Rookie Game debuts

rookie game debuts
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The Rookie Game debuts.

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This year, all eyes will be on Yi Jianlian and Kevin Durant in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, which is played two days before the All-Star Game. While this event is now an NBA ritual, believe or not, its NBA debut was only 14 years ago in 1994.

In that game, the rookies battled themselves rather than sophomores as they do in present day. Top rooks in 1994 divided into two teams, the Phenoms and the Sensations. Unlike the All-Star game the division was not related to their franchise's conference or region.

In front of a crowd of over 17,000 in Minnesota, the Phenoms defeated the Sensations 74-68. Despite playing for the losing squad, Penny Hardaway received the MVP honor for his 22-point performance. Meanwhile former Michigan Wolverine, Chris Webber led the victorious freshmen squad with 18 points and 10 boards.

While the format has evolved and the name has even changed from the Rookie Game to T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, February 12, 1994 marks the beginning of a fan-favorite NBA tradition.

- -Lauren Brill, NBA.com

All-Star Moment: Pippen '94 | Top 10 Plays of the 1994 All-Star Game | Best of the 1994 Slam Dunk Contest | All-Star Moment: '94 Dunk Contest

1996 -- Jordan scores 20 points in 22 minutes, wins MVP

mj wins 1996 mvp
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MJ wins another MVP

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It's fitting that Michael Jordan's three All-Star Game MVP awards came in 1988 (when the game was in Chicago), in 1996 (the year he led the Bulls to the best record in NBA history) and in 1998 (his final year as a Bull).

The '96 contest in San Antonio was Jordan's return to All-Star Weekend after his first retirement. The Magic were the defending Eastern Conference champions and had two starters for the East: Penny Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal. The Bulls went into the break with a ridiculous 42-5 record and had two starters of their own: Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

Shaq posted an impressive double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Jordan scored 22 points in 20 minutes on 8-of-11 from the field, capping his performance off with a breakaway jam with a patented leg kick for show.

Perhaps it was the field-goal percentage or perhaps it was that 25 points just isn't as impressive when it comes from a guy that is twice as big as the people that are doing the voting. But I'd like to think that the voters gave Jordan the MVP because they realized how much they missed him when he was off playing baseball, and decided to give him a well-deserved “Welcome Back” gift.

- - John Schuhmann, NBA.com

Top 10 Plays of the 1996 All-Star Game | Best of the 1996 Slam Dunk Contest | '95-96 Chicago Bulls: All-Star Weekend

1997 -- NBA names its 50 Greatest Players

50 greatest introduced
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The NBA introduces the 50 greatest.

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The NBA at 50 celebration officially tipped off with a press conference in a mid-town Manhattan hotel, the same hotel where the league’s charter was signed on June 6, 1946. Five former players were in attendance at the list’s unveiling: George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson and Julius Erving. Basketball immortals from different eras sharing one stage while discussing the honor bestowed upon them, reliving old rivalries and debating the question of whether a player or a team’s dominance could transcend any era.

The NBA at 50 celebration culminated at halftime of the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland as the greatest collection of basketball talent gathered under one roof. One by one, a roll call of 47 of the 50 greats stepped onto center court to a thunderous ovation from the 20,562 fans watching this historic occasion. It was truly a once in a lifetime gathering as generations of basketball icons were appropriately saluted for their enormous contributions to the game.

John Hareas, NBA.com

1997 -- Allen Iverson wins Rookie Game MVP

ai wins 1997 rookie game mvp
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Allen Iverson wins the '97 Rookie Game MVP.

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Allen Iverson joined the NBA in 1996 as a little man with big expectations. The shortest player ever to be drafted No. 1 overall – in what many consider the best draft in league history – AI immediately became the 76ers’ go-to scorer. His midseason averages of 23.0 points and 7.1 assists earned him a trip to the 1997 Schick Rookie Game.

With doubters questioning Iverson’s ability to play a team game, the rookie point guard viewed the national platform as an opportunity and came out creating. He connected multiple times with No. 2 pick Marcus Camby, who notably dunked home a spinning, lookaway drop-off pass dished midair on the break. By the end of the half, AI had dropped eight dimes and the East led by 15. Iverson opened the second half with a role-reversal, slamming home an alley-oop from Camby – two-handed – and from there, focused more on scoring to keep the East on top. A flurry by Kobe Bryant brought the West close, but AI closed out the game with 19 points, nine assists, the victory, and a Most Valuable Player trophy with his name inscribed upon it.

- -Ben Couch, NBA.com

1997 -- Kobe Bryant wins his first and only dunk contest

kobe bryant 1997 dunk contest
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images/NBAE
Kobe Bryant wins the 1997 dunk contest.

Details:
For a guy who’s been followed by a career-long debate that revolves around other people comparing and contrasting him to the one and only Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant only has himself to blame, because his awe-inspiring performance in the ’97 dunk contest just may have been the conversation starter.

Evoking memories of MJ causing a scene during his rookie year for wearing Nike warm-ups during the dunk-off, rook Kobe rocked his L.A. Lakers shooting shirt for his baseline one-handed reverse (that he’d do in a game a few years later vs. Minnesota) and kept it on for his two-handed pump between the legs 180 slam.

Once he was sufficiently warmed up and had the Cleveland crowd in his corner, Bryant took off the shooting shirt like a black mamba shedding its skin, and made like J.R. Rider with a powerful and pretty between-the-legs hammer dunk to win the competition.

As Kobe’s career unfolded people would whisper, “He tries to dress like Jordan … He tries to talk like Jordan … He wears his wristband on his forearm just like Jordan did …” but on this night he set his own style for younger players in the league’s future to be compared to. He wasn’t Jordan-esque, he was Kobe-esque.

- - Dave McMenamin, NBA.com

Best of the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest

1997 -- Glen Rice's third quarter explosion

glen rice 1997 mvp
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Rice's offensive explosion earns him the MVP.

Details:
A shooter’s touch can be a funny thing, just ask Glen Rice. The Hornets’ guard couldn’t find it and as a result underwhelmed in his 1997 Three-Point Shootout showing, failing to advance past the semifinals. Twenty four hours later, Rice was the toast of the All-Star Game, setting scoring records, thanks to, well, you guessed it, a deft shooting touch.

Rice, who scored only two points in the first half on 1 for 7 shooting, lit it up in the third, nailing 8 of 11 field goals, including four three-pointers. His 20 points bested Sixer legend Hal Greer’s mark of 19 set in the 1968 All-Star classic.

“[Jordan] came in and told me, ‘Keep stroking,’” Rice said. “He said, ‘I’m going to get you the ball. All the guys are going to be looking for you.’”

Rice ended up with a record 24 points in the half, surpassing the previous mark of 23 held by Wilt Chamberlain and Tom Chambers, as the East rolled to a 132-120 victory. Even with Michael Jordan notching the first triple-double in All-Star Game history (14 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists), the game and MVP hardware that afternoon in Cleveland belonged to Rice.

“Sometime you see the basketball going in before you release it; you feel everything you throw up is going in and it’s one of the greatest feelings you can imagine. I love to shoot.”

- - John Hareas, NBA.com

Top 10 Plays of the 1997 All-Star Game

1997 -- Jordan gets a triple-double

mj triple-double
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MJ's triple-double an All-Star first.

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The 1997 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland featured the unveiling of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. With all those legends in attendance, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that one of their own was about to shine. And that player wore a jersey numbered 23.

Michael Jordan spent a career creating memorable moments during the regular season and playoffs, where games counted for playoff seedings and championship runs. And he brought that same focus to the exhibition All-Star Game, in which he appeared 14 times and won three Most Valuable Player Awards.

In 1997, Jordan eased into a supporting role – Glen Rice earned the MVP trophy after scoring 20 points in the third quarter – but remained unable to shake the spotlight. After his pass led to a Scottie Pippen layup late in the fourth quarter, Jordan surpassed the double-digit plateau in assists, making him the first player in All-Star Game history ever to record a triple-double. By game’s end, His Airness posted 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

And led his team to a victory.

Story of Mike’s career.

- - Ben Couch NBA.com

1998 -- Jordan wins his final All-Star MVP

jordan final all-star mvp
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MJ earns his final all-star MVP.

Details:
Here’s an exercise for you to try. Pick a song lyric about New York City, and apply it to Michael Jordan.

George Benson sang, “The say the neon lights are bright on Broadway, they say there’s always magic in the air.” Applicable to MJ? You betcha. Jordan’s stardom shined so bright when he played in NYC, the crowd needed to wear sunglasses.

Frank Sinatra crooned, “If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York, New York.” Did Jordan “make it” at Madison Square Garden? Me thinks yes. John Lennon sang inquisitively, “Que pasa, New York?” Had he lived long enough to see the classic Bulls-Knicks battles at the Garden in the ‘90s, he’d be able to answer his own question: “What’s up? Oh, Jordan is up … in the air … about to throw one down on Patrick Ewing.”

Considering the musical intro, it’s only fitting that Jordan conducted the final crescendo of his (Chicago) career in the city so nice they named it twice. Jordan, the world’s most famous basketball player, graced the Garden, the world’s most famous arena, with a 23-point, six-rebound, eight-assist, three-steal performance, leading the East to a 135-114 victory and earning the third and final All-Star MVP of his illustrious career (Jordan also won it in ’88 and ’96).

- - Dave McMenamin, NBA.com

Top 10 Plays of the 1998 All-Star Game | Kobe's First All-Star Game

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