Looking back at the last two All-Star Games to be hosted in Chicago

Sam Smith on the 1973 & 1988 All Star Games

Previous All Star Games in Chicago:

January 23, 1973. Chicago Stadium.

East All-Stars win 104-84

The Bulls were in the Western Conference then and contributed high scoring forwards Chet Walker and Bob Love to the team. But it was a weakened West team with the absences of Rick Barry due to injury and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar after a massacre at a club owned by Abdul-Jabbar. In what was an internal dispute among Muslim powers, Sunni Muslims and Black Muslims. Two adults and a child were shot and four children were drowned with two others injured, seven dead overall. Abdul-Jabbar missed the game to be a pall bearer at one of the funerals. But Abdul-Jabbar also received death threats and refrained from attending the game. He played with body guards lining the court much of the rest of that season. It was the second lowest scoring All-Star game in history and the West’s total of 84 points was the fewest in an All-Star game in the shot clock era. Walker had four points and Love had six. Nate Archibald led the West with 17 points.

A ticket stub from the 1973 All Star game in Chicago

Dave Cowens led the victorious East with 15 points and 13 rebounds. The East pulled out to an 11-point lead after three quarters and extended it throughout the fourth. Jerry West playing in his final All-Star game had six points. It also was Wilt Chamberlain’s final All-Star game. He had two points and attempted just two shots, the fewest among West players, in 22 minutes. Former Celtics champion teammates were coaches, Tommy Heinsohn still from the Celtics and Bill Sharman from the Lakers. Attendance was 17,527. It was mild with temperatures in the 30s.

February 7, 1988. Chicago Stadium.

East All-Stars win 138-133.

It was what participants in an NBA poll years later called the greatest All-Star weekend, an annual event that expanded the Sunday game to a weekend of activities starting with the return of the dunk contest in 1984 in Denver. There was a legends game of old timers, including Oscar Roberston, Rick Barry, Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier, Doug Collins, John Havlicek and Dave Cowens coached by Johnny Kerr that went into overtime. There was Larry Bird winning his third consecutive three-point shooting contest and Michael Jordan narrowly beating Dominique Wilkins in the most famous and controversial slam dunk contest and then Jordan leading the East team to victory with a near record 40 points.

Michael Jordan before the 1988 Dunk Contest

Wilkins added 29 for the East. Karl Malone with 22 and Hakeem Olajuwon with 21 led the West and Magic Johnson had 19 assists. Isiah Thomas had 15 assists in constantly setting up Jordan and trying to get past the so called “freezeout” 1985 All-Star game in Indianapolis. Chicagoans Mark Aguirre for the West and Doc Rivers and Maurice Cheeks for the East were in the game. Pat Riley coached the West team and Mike Fratello the East. Attendance was 18,403 on the coldest weekend of the year in Chicago with temperatures around zero and wind chill at 20 below.

Michael Jordan during the 1988 All Star game

The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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