Hard to believe but it’s been 20 years since the Alamodome played host to the NBA All-Star Game. The last time the Spurs hosted the event the hometown was able to cheer for David Robinson and Sean Elliot.
1996 also gave us some of the most colorful and memorable All-Star jerseys (NBA we need designs like this again!). The lineup for both teams were strong and the sneakers on court were just as strong; FILA, Nike, Jordan, Reebok and more were all represented on the floor. 1996 also brought us a strong youth movement with younger guys being selected to the team. In fact, the Detroit Piston’s Grant Hill would lead the All-Star Game voting, with Michael Jordan coming in second. The game was Jordan’s first All-Star appearance since returning from his first retirement.
You could tell MJ was in good spirits that day and didn’t force anything. On his feet for the game were the “Columbia” Air Jordan 11’s. The sneakers could have matched either team’s uniform but was a nice contrast from the teal of the East jerseys. From the start of the game you could tell he was going to let the game come to him. He took shots at the most opportune times, letting his teammates do their own thing. He would pick his moments to get an easy dunk or layup, take easy (for him) mid-range jumpers and show off the versatility of his game. By the end of the game he only played 22 minutes, the lowest out of all the starters. But he shot 73% from the field hitting all four of his free throw attempts. He would finish with 20 points and four rebounds along with a steal and assist.
The East would go on to win the game with a score of 129-118. The funny thing is that if you just looked at the box score you would think Shaq took home the MVP trophy. His teammate, Penny Hardaway, lead the East with seven assists while he scored the most points in the game, 25, along with leading the East with 10 rebounds. Many thought he deserved the MVP title but by the end of the night Jordan would be standing next to David Stern hoisting the MVP trophy for the fourth time.
Maybe it was the shoes? All that really mattered was that the fans of the NBA and sneakers had a game to remember, even 20 years later.