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NBA All Star Game History
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The National Basketball Association staged its first All-Star Game in the Boston Garden on March 2, 1951. From that year on, the game has matched the best players in the Eastern Conference with the best players in the Western Conference. The participants are currently chosen in two ways. The first is via fan ballot, with the leading vote recipients at each position starting the game; secondly the reserves are chosen by a vote among the head coaches of each squad's particular conference. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players. If a player is injured and cannot participate, the commissioner will select a replacement.
The coaches who currently lead the team with the most wins in their conference through the Sunday two weeks before the game will coach their respective conferences. However, the same coach cannot coach the team in consecutive seasons. This is the so-called "Riley Rule" so named because coach Pat Riley's Lakers teams of the 1980s won so often that he coached the Western Conference team nearly every season in the 1980s. In the event that a coach's team repeats as the best record holder the coach from the team with the next best record will serve as All-Star coach for that conference.
The 2006-2007 selection process was unique due to the rather high number of injured all-stars and snubbed stars. Eddy Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Randolph and several other players (and their coaches) had issues over the process. ElevationMag.com did extensive NBA All Star coverage and quoted Stephon Marbury from the New York Knicks on how he thought the voting really occurred "I think ultimately at the end of the day it comes down to the NBA. I think the NBA picks the teams." - Stephon Marbury.
The NBA All-Star Game is played under normal NBA rules, but there are notable differences from an average game.
Since the starting All-Stars are selected by fan vote, players often start the game at atypical positions. For instance, in 2007 Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady had the two highest fan vote totals among Western Conference guards. As both players normally play shooting guard, Bryant, who is 6'6", started the game as a point guard, a position usually manned by a much smaller player.
The player introductions are usually accompanied by a significant amount of fanfare, including lighting effects, dance music, and pyrotechnics. Special uniforms are designed for the game each year (with only a few years allowing the players' regular jerseys to be used, much like what Major League Baseball does with their all-star players), usually with a red, white, and blue color scheme. A major recording artist typically sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to tip-off. One of the more memorable performances was given by Marvin Gaye during the 1983 game. Gaye was accompanied by a drum machine and used numerous elements of soul music and funk. The entire audience was clapping along as the song reached its last line.
Gameplay usually involves players attempting spectacular slam dunks and alley oops. Defensive effort is limited and the final score of the game is generally much higher than an average NBA game. The coaches also try to give most of the reserve players some time on the court instead of using a limited rotation as they would in a normal game. The fourth quarter of the game is often played in a more competitive fashion if the game is close.
Halftime is also longer than a typical NBA game due to musical performances given by major stars such as Elton John, Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, and OutKast.
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