On this Sunday we’ll remember the 2008 NBA All-Star Game hosted by the New Orleans Hornets. Yes youngins, New Orleans Hornets (Long story short- in 2013 the Hornets became the Pelicans and the Charlotte Bobcats took back the Hornet name and history for the first time since 2002). Sadly, Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005, so the Hornets were forced to play in Oklahoma City (this would prove the city capable of hosting a permanent NBA franchise) until The Bayou was ready again. Chris Paul told ESPN in 2015 that, “It was one of the most devastating things I had ever seen.” so for New Oreleans to be hosting an event of this size just two seasons later was a real testament to their resilience. Basically All-Star Weekend was a national ‘welcome back’ for the franchise and the city.
“That was my new home. Even though I had only just gotten drafted…I felt a connection to the city.” Chris paul
The NBA landscape has changed a lot since then. Most of the Stars we know and love in 2018 were either in the Rookie V. Sophomore Game or college. LeBron James is the only player to be on both the ’08 and ’18 rosters. Some players completely fell off, a few are still playing, and a handful of them coach (Kidd, Nash) or broadcast (Pierce, KG, Chauncey).
Lets start with the game’s MVP, LeBron James. He was ringless at the time and reminded at every opportunity. Critics were quick to negatively compare LeBron to MJ and question his effectiveness in crunch time. All-Star Weekend would serve as a launching pad for his run at multiple ASG, league and Finals MVP awards.
Joining LeBron in the starting lineup were Jason Kidd and Dwyane Wade. Kidd dealt with trade rumors and Wade had taken the reigns from Shaq as the Heat’s lone participant (Shaq would miss the All-Star game for the first time since 1993). Then league favorite, Dwight Howard had the Magic playing like a championship team averaging 20 points, 14 rebounds and 2 blocks a game (for the season).
Boston owned the league’s best record and had Kevin Garnett (starter), Ray Allen and Paul Pierce all representing the Celtics. KG lead the league in fan votes and Allen went straight bananas- scoring 14 points in the 4th quarter. The decision for these three to join forces completely changed how NBA teams are formed; now, every team dreams of bundling three All-Stars because of the model the Celtics perfected.
The Western Conference was led by a more mature, veteran, group of starters with Carmelo being the youngest (it was awesome to see so many faces from the ’03 draft: Wade, LeBron, Melo, Bosh, D. West). Yao Ming’s massive global fanbase voted him in as a starter again. His on court averages of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks was vintage Yao and deserving of the bid. Unfortunately, soon after the weekend Yao announced he would be missing the remainder of the season with another foot injury. It’s heartbreaking to see these old picture of Yao because so much potential was lost due to habitual foot injuries.
Speaking of wasted potential- the duo of Iverson and Anthony date this All-Star game perfectly. The two got along well enough for superficial success (via on individual production and regular season wins) but could never really mesh to a championship contender. Some people might forget A.I. was a Nugget all together and his time in Denver was the beginning of the end for his career. Iverson couldn’t mentally accept his ‘franchise leading’ days had ended and teams felt that disconnect as he tried to prolong his career.
There isn’t much to say about the veteran West starters of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Each made their 10th All-Star appearances and neither produced much. Kobe played four minutes total due to ligament injuries to his hand and Tim… well, is Tim. Duncan never had a fun, flashy, ‘All-Star-like’ game; The Big Fundamental rebounded a bit, waived to some fans and went about his day… getting buckets n rings! On a side note, game host, Chris Paul had an exceptional game totaling 18 points, 14 assists and 4 steals.
The East defeated the West 134-128 in a closely contested game; which, I’m hoping we get this evening. All-Star Weekend means many different things to different people. Maybe your earliest memory was of Jerry West. Maybe it was a dunk by Dr. J, MJ, Vince Carter or Aaron Gordon. It could be a touching moment like Magic in ’92 or one of friendship like Kobe/Shaq’s Co-MVP in ’09. Most of our readers remember the games by the shoes worn so be on the lookout for an All-Star sneaker countdown coming soon. In the meantime tell us which were player had the best ASG kicks in 2008. What was your favorite memory of All-Star ’08? Lastly, who you picking tonight, team James or Curry? Tell us in the comments below.