WEST 135, EAST 120, First Union Center (Philadelphia)
MVP: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Kobe Bryant returned to his hometown of Philadelphia and put on a show at the 2002 All-Star Game. Too bad most of the fans there didn’t care to cheer him on. Bryant had 31 points, five rebounds and five steals to win his first All-Star Game MVP award as the West cruised to a 135-120 victory. The stage was set up perfectly for Sixers star and reigning All-Star MVP Allen Iverson to claim some hometown favor, but he struggled, shooting 2-for-9 for five points.
Despite his MVP play, Bryant was booed mercilessly by a Philadelphia crowd likely still smarting from the Sixers’ loss to Bryant’s Lakers in the 2001 Finals. Still, Bryant became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1993 to score 30 points in an All-Star Game.
Perhaps the most anticipated All-Star to watch was Jordan, who returned to the NBA for the 2001-02 season and was voted in as a starter for the East. He finished with eight points on 4-for-13 shooting, which included a missed breakaway dunk.
Future MVPs Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash made their All-Star debut in this game as reserves for the West. Jason Kidd, a mainstay on the West All-Star team for years, made his first appearance on the East squad as a member of the Nets. Paul Pierce made his first All-Star Game a memorable one, finishing as the East’s second-best scorer with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Former two-time MVP Karl Malone missed the game due to injury in what ended up being the last of his 14 All-Star Game selections. Aside from Malone, two of the best defensive players of the 1990s also closed out their All-Star Game careers. Dikembe Mutombo had eight points and 10 rebounds as an East starter and Alonzo Mourning had 13 points off the East bench.
All-Star Weekend belonged, in part, to Jason Richardson of the Warriors. The high-flying rookie swingman not only took home the first of his two straight Dunk Contest trophies, but also led the Rookies to a 103-97 win over the Sophomores at the Rookie Challenge. Peja Stojakovic, who made his All-Star Game debut in 2002, won the 3-Point Shootout title.
All-Star Game rosters
Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers)
Jason Kidd (New Jersey Nets)
Dikembe Mutombo (Philadelphia 76ers)
Antoine Walker (Boston Celtics)
Michael Jordan (Washington Wizards)
Tracy McGrady (Orlando Magic)
Ray Allen (Milwaukee Bucks)
Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Atlanta Hawks)
Jermaine O’Neal (Indiana Pacers)
Alonzo Mourning (Miami Heat)
Baron Davis (Charlotte Hornets) **
Vince Carter (Toronto Raptors) *
Coach: Byron Scott (New Jersey Nets)
Steve Francis (Houston Rockets)
Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)
Chris Webber (Sacramento Kings)
Tim Duncan (San Antonio Spurs)
Kevin Garnett (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas Mavericks)
Steve Nash (Dallas Mavericks)
Gary Payton (Seattle Sonics)
Elton Brand (LA Clippers) **
Peja Stojakovic (Sacramento Kings)
Wally Szczerbiak (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Karl Malone (Utah Jazz) * — no replacement
Shaquille O’Neal (Los Angeles Lakers) *
Coach: Don Nelson (Dallas Mavericks)
All-Star Weekend Wrap
Slam Dunk Contest: Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors
3-Point Contest: Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento Kings
Rookie Challenge: Rookies 103, Sophomores 97
Rookie Challenge MVP: Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors (26 points)
NOTE: * = missed game due to injury; ** = injury replacement