With the NBA All-Star Game taking center stage this weekend in Houston, we wanted to look back on the history of the game and its most dazzling stars, none of whom shines brighter than the All-Star Game MVP.
The NBA has played 61 All-Star Games and handed out 65 MVP trophies (the honor was shared four times). Which players have won the most MVP awards, and which franchise has the most All-Star Game MVPs to its credit?
Check out the graphic, from SportsData LLC:
Note: The jersey numbers reflect what the players wore during the season, not necessarily during the All-Star Game, as players often change numbers for the game to avoid doubling up with a teammate. Also, Kobe Bryant wore No. 8 for the first 10 years of his career, but won just one All-Star Game MVP over that span. Since changing to No. 24, he’s won the award three times in seven years. Finally, Shaquille O’Neal wore No. 34 with the Lakers and No. 32 with the Suns, so we split the difference.
Bryant can make history with one more MVP award, breaking a tie with the great Bob Pettit of the old St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks. LeBron James (two awards) is already nipping at Bryant's heels, but no matter how it turns out, Bryant will always have a leg up on his idol (Michael Jordan) and his nemesis (O’Neal), who stalled out at three trophies apiece.
Judging by the numbers, it’s possible that the media members who vote on the award sometimes succumb to human nature and get caught up in the support for a hometown favorite. That’s one explanation for the fact that 15 of the 65 MVPs (23 percent) won the award in their home arenas, most recently Bryant at the Staples Center in 2011.
Share and share alike
The All-Star Game MVP award has been shared by two teammates four times:
• 1959 -- Pettit and Elgin Baylor in Detroit
• 1993 -- John Stockton and Karl Malone in Salt Lake City
• 2000 -- O’Neal and Tim Duncan in Oakland
• 2009 -- O’Neal and Bryant in Phoenix
Of the 65 MVPs, 15 are still active or haven't been retired long enough to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Of the other 50, only five All-Star Game MVPs are not Hall of Famers:
• 1997 -- Glen Rice, Hornets: A three-time All-Star, Rice came off the bench to score a game-high 26 points in 25 minutes, hitting four 3-pointers en route to a victory by the East in Cleveland.
• 1995 -- Mitch Richmond, Kings: The six-time All-Star hit 10 of 13 shots, including 3-of-3 from behind the arc, and scored a game-high 23 points in 22 minutes off the bench to lift the West to victory in Phoenix.
• 1987 -- Tom Chambers, SuperSonics: Making the first of his four All-Star appearances, Chambers wowed the home crowd at the Kingdome by scoring 34 points on 13 of 25 shooting to help the West win in overtime.
• 1978 -- Randy Smith, Braves: A two-time All-Star, Smith hit 11 of 14 shots off the bench and scored 27 points to help the East win in Atlanta. Smith would go down in history as the Braves’ last All-Star, as the franchise relocated from Buffalo to San Diego and became the Clippers after the 1977-78 season.
• 1966 -- Adrian Smith, Royals: Making his only All-Star appearance, Smith led all scorers with 24 points off the bench in front of his hometown fans as the East cruised to victory in Cincinnati.
Out of the loop
Some of the game’s greatest players never won an All-Star Game MVP award. In fact, the man with the most All-Star Game appearances of all time is one of them. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went 0-for-18 in the MVP category. Also sent home without hardware: John Havlicek (13 appearances), Hakeem Olajuwon (12), Elvin Hayes (12), Dirk Nowitzki (11 and counting), Dolph Schayes (11) and Moses Malone (11).
Average stat line
Just for fun, we sifted through the box scores of all 61 All-Star Games and compiled an average stat line for the 65 MVP award winners: 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists, 56 percent shooting from the field, 80 percent shooting from the free throw line.
Highs and lows
Here are your statistical outliers among MVPs in the major offensive categories:
• Most points: 40 -- Jordan, 1988
• Fewest points: 9 -- Stockton, 1993; Nate Archibald, 1981
• Most rebounds: 27 -- Pettit, 1962
• Fewest rebounds: 1 -- Rice, 1997; Isiah Thomas, 1986; Lenny Wilkens 1971
• Most assists: 15 -- Stockton, 1993; Thomas, 1984
• Fewest assists: 0 -- Malone, 1993; Willis Reed, 1970; Paul Arizin, 1952
• Best field goal percentage: 1.000 (8-for-8) -- Hal Greer, 1968
• Worst field goal percentage: .286 (4-for-14) -- Bob Cousy, 1957
Infographic by SportsData LLC.