Remember These? Here Are the Most Unforgettable NBA All-Star Moments

  • Vince Carter owns the dunk contest

    2000

    Stars have shied away from the event in recent years, but thankfully for fans of hellacious slams, Vince Carter opted in for the 2000 edition of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Vinsanity’s lone appearance in the midseason event completely revitalized it for younger fans, who had experienced a bit of a dull stretch following the Michael Jordan / Dominique Wilkins peak in the ’80s. VC took all the elements of the best dunkers – big air, smoothness, and power – and wrapped them all into one unforgettable package.

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  • T-Mac goes off the glass

    2002

    All-Star Games are the king of “He did WHAT?!” moments – good or bad – and Tracy McGrady’s self-oop in the 2002 game definitely falls in the first category. Much like his cousin Carter in the dunk showcase two years earlier, McGrady attempted something mere mortals couldn’t even conceptualize. To do it in a game – even if the defense was iffy at best – speaks to McGrady’s otherworldly talent and creativity.

    Sidenote: This falls into the personal memory section for me – I went to watch a high school tournament that LeBron and Carmelo played in in Trenton that weekend, and when T-Mac did this during the ASG, they took an extended break during one of the games to replay it on the Jumbotron.

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  • Michael Jordan rocks the "Black Cement" Air Jordan III

    1988

    The 1988 All-Star Game was owned by Michael Jordan, and rightfully so. Basketball’s ascending king was playing on his home court, and responded fittingly with 40 big ones in the Sunday game. But in the minds of sneakerheads, it was the shoe he premiered in the game – the highly coveted Black Cement edition of the Air Jordan III – that emerged iconic.

    We’ll be revisiting this weekend a bit later.

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  • Dwight Howard goes Superman

    2008

    It seems like Turner’s Kenny Smith declares that “THE DUNK CONTEST IS BACK” every single year, but his shouts were appropriate for Howard’s channeling of the superhero from planet Krypton. The dunk featuring Dwight literally throwing the ball into the net is an all-timer.

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  • Brent Barry c-walk

    2003

    Brent Barry is well known for his 1996 Dunk Contest title, but this smaller moment is the more lasting image of the former swingman from All-Star Weekend. Unfortunately for viewers at the time, it didn’t come with the accompanying Westside Connection/Ice Cube/Nate Dogg track in the background, but a valiant YouTuber ensured that Barry’s little jig would live on forever.

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  • Magic post-AIDS

    1992

    Magic Johnson shocked the world when he announced he was HIV positive before the start of the 1991-92 season, abruptly retiring from the sport. In a show of respect for the Lakers legend, Magic was voted into the All-Star Game by the fans, and gamely returned to basketball to give the love back. It was an emotional appearance, but it wasn’t token – he took home MVP honors with a 25-9-5 line.

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  • Marvin Gaye anthem

    1983

    What happens when you combine one of the greatest singers of all time, America’s national anthem and a large stage for him to sing it on? Three minutes of pure greatness.

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  • Chris Webber - Chromed Out

    2002

    Chris Webber was a memorable player on merit alone, but his most significant All-Star contribution came by way of the sneakers he wore to the 2002 All-Star Game in Philadelphia. Dada was no stranger to off-the-wall shoe styles — look no further than Latrell Sprewell‘s spinner shoes — and C-Webb’s shiny pair goes down as an all-time eye-catcher, even if they don’t suit your tastes.

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  • Larry Bird, three-point king

    1986

    The quintessential elements of Larry Bird – sweet shooting and a knack for the clutch – were on display at the inaugural three-point contest in ’86. After asking his combatants beforehand “Which one of you guys is going to finish second?” Bird sputtered through the early racks in the final round before turning it on when it mattered most. An absolute classic.

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  • MJ vs. 'Nique

    1988

    Picking between the various Jordan / Wilkins dunk contest battles of the ’80s is an exercise in futility; the fact that stars of their caliber continued to participate in the event is amazing in itself. It perfectly crystallizes the proceedings – nothing like it happened before it, and nothing is likely to duplicate it since.

    They were the perfect foil for one another, the fluidity of Jordan’s dunks vs. Dominique’s thundering windmills. There may have been a little home cooking with the final scoring, but appreciate this moment for what it is. It’s not likely you’ll ever see the equivalent again. Sit back and enjoy seven minutes of perfection.

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  • Vince Carter nba slam dunk contest
  • Tracy McGrady all-star game alley oop
  • Michael Jordan all-star game
  • Dwight Howard nba dunk contest superman
  • Brent Barry c-walk nba all-star
  • Marvin Gaye nba all star
  • Chris Webber Dada NBA All-Star Game shiny sneakers
  • Larry Bird 3 point contest
  • Dominique Wilkins slam dunk contest

NBA All-Star Weekend means something different depending on who you ask about it. All-Star Games have become something of a punchline for their outright mockery of defense, but the full slate contains the largest bundle of fun on the hoops calendar, regardless of how far it strays from the usual product. Rather than honing in on the changes, it’s best to let your hair down and get swept up in the hoopla, literally and figuratively.

There’s a little something for everyone, whether you’re a diehard NBA head or just a casual observer scoping the scene for fly kicks. We get to see a new batch of high fliers competing in the dunk contest on Saturday night, and a cavalcade of older stars lounging in eye-popping threads. Fifteen years ago, that might have been Allen Iverson dripping with jewelry; today it’s Russell Westbrook taking cues from the always audacious Kanye West.

No matter what you tune in to see, the league does a great job at presenting the event for what it is – a showcase for fans of the game, where they get to see their favorite household names and the young guns hoping to eventually take their spots at the top. The NBA’s royalty acts accordingly, striving to put on a show for their audience in any way possible. It certainly helps when the competitive juices are flowing too.

Here are the Most Unforgettable NBA All-Star Moments that have stuck with us through the years. Hopefully we have a few new additions after this year’s festivities.

Follow Kyle on Twitter at @kyleneubeck

image via Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images