To watch the top level of skill compete in NBA basketball live and in person, you’ll want tickets to the NBA All Star Game, where the best players of the Eastern Conference go up against the best of the Western Conference. And while you're treating yourself to the best of basketball, you might as well make a weekend of it, with a variety of NBA-related events, including the All-Star Celebrity Game, the Rising Stars Challenge, and the Shooting Stars Competition. As one of the most popular weekends in all of professional basketball, tickets are sure to go fast!
As North American all-star spectacles go, the National Basketball Association's All-Star Game is the flashiest and most action-packed of them all. Unlike the NFL's Pro Bowl, which wandered aimlessly and was almost discontinued until it landed in Honolulu, basketball's version of showing off has been a hit since its inception in Boston in 1951.
While Major League Baseball had been in the AllStar business since 1933, it did not take long for the NBA to make a hit of the concept of East vs. West in an all-out star spectacular. Over the years, the gradual inclusion of more and more exciting peripheral events has turned the NBA All-Star Game into an All-Star Weekend.
We owe this traditional midseason classic to the brainstorming of Haskell Cohen, a publicist for the NBA. At the beginning of the 1950s, the NBA was a struggling concept, with high franchise turnover and an increasing tendency to place teams in such smaller cities as Sheboygan, Wisconsin and Waterloo, Iowa. On top of that, there was a brewing scandal involving college basketball players. The NBA needed a profile boost.
Many insiders, though, thought an All-Star Game was not the ticket to respectability. What if it flopped? Walter Brown, owner of the Boston Celtics, thought Cohen had the right idea, and he offered Boston Garden and, more importantly, offered to cover any losses if no one showed up. Even so, in the week before the game, the league commissioner tried to get Brown to cancel the game.
Fortunately for us at this point, Cohen and Brown stuck to their guns, and 10,000 fans showed up for what was to become the high point of the midpoint of the NBA season. Now, more than 50 games into the series, we can't imagine an NBA season without an All-Star Game.
Though it's unimaginable, the NBA did skip a year of All-Star activity, 1999. A labor dispute had led to a lockout of the players, and the result was silent stadiums, no tickets, no stars. With the labor issues in the past, the Game continues on its course, with a number of features that make the weekend exciting.
The standard lineup of activities includes the Rookie Challenge on Friday evening. This game pits the cream of the rookie crop against a team of outstanding second-year players. Saturday brings the whole All Star crew together for events that include 'Shooting Stars,' which teams an NBA player, a WNBA player and a retired NBA star against other such teams in a timed shooting contest. The 'Skills Challenge' involves an obstacle course with stations to show off shooting, dribbling and passing skills.
Of course, fans flock to the 'Three-Point Shootout' and the 'Slam Dunk Competition.' Here is where the best of the best work their flashiest moves in order to get that extra bit of personal glory.
Then, on Sunday, it's game time. While the East holds a comfortable lead in wins, the West has shown in recent years that it is not an underdog in this game. You never know when your tickets will get you into a game that goes into double overtime, like 2003, or when one team will pound on the other, as the West did in 1992 when it won by 40 points. Even in a game that's over early, the spectacle of seeing great NBA stars working together is worth the price of your tickets.
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