Hey, you recognize, everyone’s speaking concerning the “good old days,” proper? Everybody! The good previous days. Well, let’s discuss concerning the good previous days!
February ninth 2003. How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days was the primary film on the earth. “All I Have” by Jennifer Lopez that includes LL Cool J was sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100. Kobe Bryant was on the quilt of Mahaz News 66 carrying a jet black Lakers jersey along with his three Larry O’Brien trophies. It was a cloudy night time in Georgia however even then there have been 24 additional stars within the Atlanta sky. On that night time at Philips Arena, the NBA hosted its 52nd Annual NBA All-Star Game.
It was a time earlier than TikTook, NFTs, and NBA Twitter. It’s now 2023 and at instances it seems like we’re dwelling in some snarled future, however not less than the sport of basketball continues to be good.
By the time you’re studying this, the League can be on the brink of host the 72nd Annual All-Star Game in Salt Lake City and if we’re fortunate, it’ll be a basic very like Atlanta’s sport 20 years prior. Generally talking, ‘03 is a yr strongly etched into the reminiscence of all inside the tradition. Baggy pants, cumbersome kicks, triple-layered headwear, spinning rims, Playstation 2… may it have all been so easy then?
The 2003 NBA All-Star Game was one of the crucial stacked occasions of all time, each in star energy and persona. Society was reaching a breaking level when individuality, charisma, and elegance had been positioned on an identical stage as talent. The Western Conference All-Stars included Steve Francis, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Yao Ming as starters, with Shaquille O’neal, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Gary Payton, Stephon Marbury, and Peja Stojakovic coming off the bench. The West was helmed by then-Sacramento Kings head coach, Rick Adelman. Peja was an damage substitute for his teammate Chris Webber.
The Eastern Conference All-Stars included Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal, and Ben Wallace as starters, with Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Paul Pierce, Brad Miller, Jamal Mashburn, Antoine Walker, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas coming off the bench. Isiah Thomas, who coached the Indiana Pacers on the time, led the cost for the East.
There are numerous issues you could have forgotten concerning the 2003 NBA All-Star Game. So, permit us to remind you.
First off, the jerseys. It marked the primary time for the reason that ‘90s that the NBA designed and deployed All-Star Game jerseys. In the earlier 5 years, gamers simply wore their very own jersey from their respective groups (All-Star Weekend in 1999 was canceled as a result of lockout). And the jerseys had been contemporary as hell. The retro design recalled a number of the late ‘80s All-Star Game jerseys, swapping out the brief shorts for a baggier possibility.
The essential focus coming into All-Star weekend was Michael Jordan, who was making ready to retire for a 3rd and last time. He was a starter and an All-Star for the 14th time in his profession, an accomplishment that didn’t come with out its fair proportion of controversy. Allen Iverson and Vince Carter had been each close to on the peak of their recognition in 2003 and had been voted because the beginning backcourt for the Eastern Conference by the followers. Carter had missed an enormous chunk of video games that season on account of damage and there was a ton of strain on him to surrender his beginning spot to Jordan. He resisted the notion for fairly a while however he ultimately relented and gave up his beginning spot to his elder UNC alum simply earlier than gametime. The scrutiny turned ugly after some time, and the Atlanta crowd even booed Carter when he was being launched earlier than the sport.
For the file, Jordan was completely fantastic with coming off the bench. When requested about it in the course of the sport, Jordan mentioned, “Vince surprised me. I told him as I told the rest of the players, I started 13 times, I didn’t need to start [a] 14th time. You know, they were adamant about getting me to start. Vince actually came to me right before we went out and said that he would love for me to take his spot. He’s very respectful. I think he took some undue punishment, all during this week about him being very honorable to the fans, and even at the end, when he gave it up, I really didn’t want him to back down from what he actually stood for and I’ve supported him in that sense. But he wanted me to take his spot and I thought it was very gracious of him and very respectful.”
Problem solved, Jordan began.
Another wrinkle out of the gate was Jordan’s coach for the sport, Isiah Thomas, who’s arguably Jordan’s greatest rival and undoubtedly his most prevalent foil. If Jordan had a nemesis, it was Zeke (or Jerry Krause). But Thomas had coached the Pacers to the perfect file within the East by the break, so he was his coach for the night time. Infamously, there’s a conspiracy that Isiah Thomas led a cost to freeze Jordan out of his first All-Star Game in 1985. Jordan was a rookie and completed the sport with seven factors on 22.2 % taking pictures in a 140-129 loss. And now 18 years, two retirements, and 13 All-Star appearances later, Michael Jordan was the elder statesman within the All-Star Game, with Yao Ming because the lone rookie to take part within the sport.
Jordan, nevertheless, was aggressive however wasn’t sizzling proper out of the gates. He began the sport 0-7. He started the sport solely 10 factors behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for probably the most factors within the All-Star sport’s historical past and the Atlanta crowd was hungry for him to interrupt the file (a file that’s been snapped by the late-Kobe Bryant and LeBron James since then). Each missed try by Jordan was adopted by hushed sighs of resignation by the group however the voracious outbreak when he lastly made a jumper was properly definitely worth the wait.
The first quarter was a comparatively aggressive defensive efficiency for each side, the primary quarter ended with the East main 23-18 off the energy of a 13-0 run. Jordan by no means actually received any hotter from the sector, however he ultimately broke the file and completed with 20 factors on 9-27 (33.3 %) taking pictures.
The tempo and stage of play picked up significantly however the defensive effort faltered within the second quarter when the reserves checked in. The signature playground type of all-star ball had infiltrated each nook of the sport and it was enjoyable as hell. A sequence of lobs from Brad Miller to Vince Carter adopted by Stephon Marbury to Shawn Marion early within the second quarter was particularly electrifying. Shortly afterwards, Dirk Nowitzki went on a mini-heater in two minutes and scored all 9 of his factors for the night time. All-Star video games are attention-grabbing in that approach. Basketball is improvisational like jazz and these are the perfect artists on the earth. You by no means know when a participant would possibly go off onto a solo and strut his shit.
Rick Adelman determined to indulge each hoops fan in all places and performed a lineup of Francis-Garnett-Duncan-Shaq-Yao. If any lineup with 4 seven-footers may work in an actual sport, I really feel like this is able to be the one. Great mixture of taking pictures, passing, mobility, size, and protection. They went on an 8-2 run in simply over two minutes to safe a 55-52 lead heading into halftime.
Halftime was a present in itself. The NBA had orchestrated a tribute for Michael Jordan that concerned Mariah Carey popping out and singing in two totally different Jordan jerseys. She sang “Boy (I Need You)” whereas carrying a mini-dress styled to seem like Jordan’s Bulls jersey. While they performed a montage of Jordan highlights, Seinfeld clips, Gatorade commercials, SNL monologues, and Spike Lee poetics, Mariah Carey became a floor-length costume designed after Jordan’s Wizards jersey.
Mariah Carey gave chilling renditions of “My Saving Grace” and “Hero” on the heart of a stage positioned on the court docket. Jordan was moved to tears in the course of the efficiency and Mariah Carey launched Jordan to the group for a chance to deal with them. It took the standing ovation over a minute to relax sufficient for Jordan to even get any actual phrases out. When he may lastly communicate, he tearfully thanked the followers, his household, and expressed his gratitude for having the ability to go the sport alongside to the subsequent technology. Much of the subsequent technology was sharing the ground with him on this sport they usually’d decide how it might finish.
If basketball is jazz, Tracy McGrady’s third quarter was like Miles Davis at his peak. He was cashing jumpers from all around the court docket and making daring forays to the cup, it was very clear why he was arguably the perfect scorer on the earth at that second. Iverson received it going as properly with the pass-first Jason Kidd by his aspect within the backcourt to start out the half slightly than Michael Jordan. For the West, Kevin Garnett continued his spectacular play on each ends of the ground. He hardly missed something and remained a conduit of unbridled power. Kobe received it going as properly after just about sleepwalking by the primary half.
In the third, Shaq was throwing Jordan’s layup again to the three-point line. The crowd booed Shaq for hampering their hero however the East largely managed the third quarter, eking out a 93-86 lead heading into the ultimate body.
As typical the fourth quarter was extra aggressive than the remainder of the sport. Shaq dominated the reserve minutes however many of the Eastern Conference starters remained on the ground, even firstly of the quarter. Both of the Boston Celtics younger guys, Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker, complained concerning the lack of enjoying time they obtained within the sport. Zydrunas Ilgauskas of the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t publicly complain however he solely performed 4 minutes. Isiah Thomas met all complaints with a closed ear, “it’s my team” he commented.
Michael Jordan is among the clutchest gamers in NBA historical past, if not probably the most clutch. He had received video games, and championships, along with his elite shot making potential with the sport on the road. With 10.1 seconds left and the sport tied at 120 a chunk, and a younger Shawn Marion on him with time beyond regulation looming, Jordan posted up in full isolation. He took a number of dribbles within the midpost, then turned over his shoulder and shot his patented turnaround jumper. He missed. The crowd sighed because it clanged off the rim. Overtime, the sixth occasion this occurred in All-Star sport historical past.
And then it’d ultimately go into double time beyond regulation—the primary time in NBA All-Star sport historical past.
Isiah Thomas will need to have felt responsible concerning the lack of minutes allotted to his bench gamers (together with the starters most likely being exhausted with the additional basketball time on this night time) as a result of he put in a number of guys who hadn’t seen many minutes down the stretch to start out double OT. The West shortly jumped out to a lead and by no means relinquished it once more. Garnett dominated in opposition to the smaller East lineup, ending with 37 factors on 70.8 % taking pictures. The West held on to win the sport 155-145 regardless of Iverson’s finest efforts.
The sport got here to an in depth with the standard procession of handshakes, hugs, and high-fives, because the gamers rushed to get off to an evening on the Atlanta streets. Peace to mankind, it was a stupendous time to be alive.
Photos by way of Getty Images.
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