This upcoming Sunday, the NBA’s 65th All-Star Game will take place on foreign soil, in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
Leading up to the league’s midseason showcase, which features an astounding collection of talent headlined by Steph Curry, LeBron, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, KD, Melo, D Wade, and of course, Kobe Bryant in his farewell All-Star appearance, we’ll be sharing some of our most memorable reflections and recollections of one of American sports’ premier showcases.
But a funny thing happened in the fourth quarter: Allen Iverson, while playing in Washington D.C., where he mesmerized the nation with his preternatural talents as a two-year force of nature at Georgetown University, decided that, as Buckwheat once had said, “Enough is enough, is enough, is enough!”
This event was significant because not only was it the 50th anniversary of the game, but the phenomenal Tracy McGrady was making his first All-Star appearance as a starter for the East while the historically great David Robinson was playing for the final time.
The East trailed 95-74 with nine minutes left after the West dominated the first 39 minutes behind its superior size. Many were calling the game a mismatch before they even tipped off, claiming that the West enjoyed a sizable advantage in size and in the skills of their post players.
Here were the rosters:
Allen Iverson (76ers), Tracy McGrady (Magic), Antonio Davis (Raptors), Vince Carter (Raptors), Anthony Mason (Heat), Dikembe Mutombo (Hawks), Ray Allen (Bucks), Glenn Robinson (Bucks), Stephon Marbury (Nets), Latrell Sprewell (Knicks), Jerry Stackhouse (Pistons) and Allan Houston (Knicks).
Grant Hill (Magic), Alonzo Mourning (Heat) and Theo Ratliff (76ers) were supposed to be on the roster, but were injured and sat out.
Jason Kidd (Suns), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Chris Webber (Kings), Tim Duncan (Spurs), Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves), Rasheed Wallace (Trail Blazers), Gary Payton (Sonics), Michael Finley (Mavericks), Antonio McDyess (Nuggets), Karl Malone (Jazz), David Robinson (Spurs) and Vlade Divac (Kings).
The Shaqnificent one was injured and did not play.
Iverson went on a rampage like Von Miller in Super Bowl 50, scoring 15 of his 25 points in the final nine minutes. Dikembe Mutumbo did his share of finger-wagging while blocking three shots and altering many others. He was also a horse on the boards, snagging 22 rebounds.
Stephon Marbury, who went at Kobe’s neck in the final quarter and added 12 points and four assists in 18 minutes, hit two three-pointers in the final 53 seconds as the East came back from a 21-point deficit.
It was one of the greatest comebacks in All-Star Game history as the East claimed a phenomenal, 111-110 come-from-behind victory.
“To win at the end of the game the way we did after being down by 21 showed a lot of heart,” Marbury said when the final horn sounded. “To be able to hit some big shots at the end of the game and help us win it was a great chapter. It was beyond my dreams.”
“It was like a championship game out there,” Mutombo added after the game. “I’ve been in the All-Star Game the last seven years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Vince Carter and Ray Allen, who scored 16 and 15 respectively for the East, put in work as well. The West’s big man contingent of KG, Chris Webber and Tim Duncan dominated in the paint, and guards Jason Kidd and Michael Finley got busy for the West too.
But the West was paced by the fantastic play of Kobe Bryant. The Bean’s fans, and Iverson’s, took turns chanting “MVP!!!” whenever either of them touched the ball down the stretch.
Kobe led the West with 19 points and seven assists, but the night belonged to The Answer, who mesmerized the crowd with his dashing forays to the rim, and the sheer nerve and fearlessness of his game.
“Everybody was saying we couldn’t win because of our size,” Iverson said after the game. “It’s not about size. It’s about the size of your heart.”