Worst (Or Is It Best?) Moments in NBA All-Star Weekend History
NBA All-Star Weekend is almost upon us, and that means a weekend full of some awesome dunks, games with no defense, questionable fashion choices and plenty of celebrity sightings.
While the league's All-Star Weekend has a rich history filled with some of the most exciting moments in the history of the sport, we decided to take a look back at some of the very worst moments that the NBA would probably rather forget.
In the first NBA All-Star game following the merger with the ABA, Julius Erving put on a show-stopping performance that electrified the arena, finishing the night with 30 points and 12 rebounds on his way to taking home the MVP award. However, the East lost that game, marking the only time in the history of the All-Star Game that the MVP award was handed to a member of the losing team.
While there is no actual proof of this, it has been propagated countless times over the years that Michael Jordan—an up-and-coming star playing in his first All-Star Game at the time—was “frozen out” in 1985 by Pistons guard Isiah Thomas. Jordan finished the night with seven points on 2-of-9 shooting, and it was not the splashy debut that many were expecting. Whether Thomas had a role in this will continue to be debated for many years to come despite both Jordan and Thomas denying any wrongdoing.
Cedric Ceballos had a fantastic and original dunk idea with his hocus pocus dunk. Unfortunately, Ceballos could clearly see his feet underneath the blindfold. He was awarded with a perfect score for his dunk, and that led to Larry Johnson—he was widely considered to be the favorite to win the competition—forfeiting as a result because he was more or less mathematically eliminated from winning after he scored low on his first two dunks of the final round.
Darrell Armstrong’s lone appearance at the dunk contest in 1996 is probably one of those moments that he wishes that he could take back. Aside from botching practically all of his attempts, he wound up accidentally finishing off his final attempt with a layup. Talk about embarrassing. The NBA probably wishes the whole thing was forgotten, as Brent Barry managed to win with two free throw line dunks in the same contest.
Michael Finley will go down in the history books for combining the worst idea, attempt and fail all into one moment: his notorious attempt at a cartwheel dunk. Actually, scratch that—we can't even call it a cartwheel, it was more of a quarter-wheel (if that's even a thing).
While it’s difficult to maintain a consistent level of interest in the dunk contest, the NBA opted to replace the signature event of All-Star Weekend with… 2Ball. The move was in response to several years of poor showings, and it was certainly disappointing as All-Star Weekend took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City that year following a strong showing from Kobe Bryant the previous year.
2Ball paired an NBA player with an WNBA player in teams to shoot from seven locations on the court, each with a point value assigned to it based on its distance to the basket. Thankfully, 2Ball was discontinued after two painful years—although, it partially lives on as the Shooting Stars competition—and the dunk contest came back in full force when Vince Carter decided to lace 'em up in 2001.
The 2001 dunk contest was just plain bad. The eventual champion, Desmond Mason, was able to take home the hardware simply because he was consistent enough throughout the contest to score the highest. However, the moment that stands out the most is Baron Davis’ blindfold dunk attempt. He completely misses everything and isn’t even aware until someone tells him afterward. At least he didn’t cheat.
Kobe Bryant’s homecoming was spoiled when Philadelphia hosted All-Star Weekend in 2002. After the Lakers dismantled the 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals, Bryant was showered with boos throughout the night despite putting on a great show for his hometown crowd and taking home the MVP award after dropping 31 points.
In the NBA’s never-ending quest to reinvent the dunk contest, they ironically introduced the dunk wheel to the competition in order to try and keep things fresh. The Wheel had a selection of classic dunks that players would have to attempt to replicate, and it was a sad gimmick that was mercifully axed after a single appearance.
Fred Jones managed to win the dunk contest by default after a failed attempt by Jason Richardson in the final round gave Jones the edge. This came after Richardson had one of the most spectacular dunks in contest history.
Someone in the NBA's front office decided to play a cruel joke on fans by inviting Chris "Birdman" Anderson to participate in the dunk contest. What followed was easily one of the most embarrassing string of dunk attempts—and we use the term dunk attempts loosely here.
Despite 14 attempts to complete his final dunk, Nate Robinson somehow still managed to be crowned the champion. You have to at least admire Robinson’s tenacity here as he stubbornly attempted over and over and over again to pull it off. However, with the element of surprise gone, the luster of the dunk vanished well before he was able to finally complete it. Andre Iguodala was robbed.
It felt like deja vu as Robinson once again broke the double-digit barrier for attempts to pull off a dunk. However, thankfully for the viewers and all in attendance, a two-minute clock was instituted to limit each run. In true Robinson fashion, he exhausted the clock with a series of failures, but he was given an extra attempt after the clock ran out and was able to nail it on his tenth try.
After challenging former referee Dick Bavetta to a foot race, Charles Barkley and the then 67-year-old Bavetta raced across the court three and a half times, with Barkley narrowly coming away with a win. Barkley even showboated on the stretch run, running backward at the tail end of the race and falling flat on his back after crossing the finish line. However, Barkley took a potentially fun, touching moment and made it extremely awkward after he planted a kiss on Bavetta’s lips as they embraced following their race. This is one moment that Barkley will never live down, as his Inside the NBA cohorts love to remind him of the tender moment he shared with Bavetta.
LeBron James sent shockwaves around the sports world after he announced live on television that he would be participating in the 2010 dunk contest in Dallas. After months of anticipation and hype, James bowed out before the event, leaving us with one of the worst dunk contests of all time.
There have been complaints over the fan voting process for the All-Star game in the past, but issues with the system became glaringly obvious in 2011. Thanks to fans from China tipping the scales in his favor, Yao Ming was voted in as a starter despite missing all but five games up until that point with an ankle injury. Luckily for the NBA, Ming was unable to participate due to injury and Kevin Love was rightfully selected as his replacement. Ming would retire only a few short months later.
The 2012 dunk contest had some intriguing competitors—Jeremy Evans, Paul George and Derrick Williams—in the field, but it would end up being one of the worst dunk contests in the history of the event. Despite some good conceptual dunks and an impressive jam by Evans to win it all, the the competition as a whole failed to excite.
While being presented with the MVP trophy of the Rising Stars Challenge, the top part of the trophy broke off as it was being handed to Andre Drummond.
Once again the league decided to change up the format for the dunk contest, and this was by far the worst change they’ve ever made. While there were some good dunks, when all was said and done, most people had trouble figuring out who even won the contest.
The NBA added these awful looking sleeves to uniforms last year in their quest to shove these hideous jerseys down our throats.
Fashion has become increasingly important in the NBA, but an alarming trend has emerged: It appears that some of the game’s biggest stars are attempting to one-up each other as they try and take the crown away from Craig Sager as the worst-dressed person in all of sports. Just check out some of these fashion fails from last year.