The NBA All-Star Game had always been the ideal outlet for fans across the world to witness the elite players come together for a showdown on one stage. While many have complained during recent years regarding the competitiveness of the game, the 2012 NBA All-Star Game, played Feb. 27, was a reminder of the potential.
The Western Conference starting lineup featured only three teams, with the Los Angeles Lakers (two), Clippers (two) and Oklahoma City Thunder (one) receiving a bulk of fan voting. For the Lakers, the obvious choice was Kobe Bryant to start at shooting guard, but he was joined by a primed Andrew Bynum who earned his ways to starting at the center position.
Rounded out by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Kevin Durant, the West starters matched up against Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and leading vote-getter Dwight Howard.
All-Star Weekend was set in Howard’s home arena, with a jam-packed crowd at the Amway Center. While the Orlando Magic fans in attendance cheered on their star center, the night belonged to Bryant.
He entered the game just 18 points behind Michael Jordan for the most points scored in All-Star Game history. Jordan, who managed to play in 13 All-Star Games, had compiled a total of 262 points and three All-Star Game MVPs.
The 2012 game favored the Western Conference early on, as they broke out for a 39-28 lead after the first quarter. In typical fashion, the scoring came in bursts, with the elite players demonstrating their lethal offensive abilities.
Although West head coach Scott Brooks encouraged the fast-paced tempo, East head coach and defensive mastermind Tom Thibodeau jokingly wasn’t pleased. The quick pace continued into the second quarter, as both teams combined for 90 points.
Going into halftime, the Western Conference held an 88-69 lead. Bryant had yet to surpass the milestone, but was inching closer as the game progressed. It wouldn’t be until the third when Bryant had his moment, cementing his temporary status as the greatest scorer in All-Star Game history.
With a little over five minutes remaining in the third, Durant tipped a pass from LeBron James and gave a beautiful outlet to Bryant in the open court. It was a breakaway dunk from there, as Bryant elevated for a two-handed slam, officially surpassing Jordan.
In regards to the outcome, the East mounted an impressive second-half rally, outscoring the West 80-64 over the final two quarters. However, the West was able to hang on for the 152-149 win. Durant was voted All-Star Game MVP, with 36 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Although the award belonged to Durant, Bryant had set yet another remarkable record during his illustrious career. Bryant would go on to finish with a total of 290 points over the span of 15 All-Star Games, being named MVP in four of those exhibitions.
It is important to note that Bryant’s record has since been passed by LeBron James, who now has 343 total points in 14 All-Star Game selections. However, the impact of the generational battle between Jordan and Kobe remains one of the greater comparisons in NBA history.
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