Ahh yes, the NBA all-star weekend. A few days of razzle and dazzle, celebrities, and of course a basketball game. Surprisingly, or maybe not surprising at all, the game is the least entertaining part of the entire weekend. So unless you like watching 10 men lightly jog from one end of the court back to the other while watching alley-oop after….you get it. You haven’t missed out on too much yet.
Yes, the slam dunk contest and even classic three point contest have some sway to them that the game just cannot match considering its lack of intensity and enthusiasm. Still, to see those who are competing in the respective competitions does not mean you’re watching the all-stars. So, to really see the all-stars, you need to indeed watch the game. However, for those who have over the course of its 64 showcases, there have always been a few occasions of the ‘who is that guy’ which can make for an interesting twist or a downright mistake. Most notably the NBA has had some issues with players being voted in as starters over the past few decades whom have either been injured or non-existent over the first half of the NBA season. This list however, is not only for those who did not deserve a start, but also for those who snuck themselves onto a roster of the top 13 players in their conference due to injury, coach’s decision or pure magic! (No one has used magic as we know of yet) Seriously, this is about the players who, without a doubt, did not deserve their place on their respective all-star squads, but you can’t blame them, it wasn’t their call. It sure makes for a much more intriguing look back at some of the all-star rosters though and offers up for more than a few head scratchers on different occasions.
15. Christian Laettner – Atlanta Hawks – 1997 All-Star Game – PF/C
The once highly heralded Duke starlet, Laettner never really got off and running in the NBA after being drafted third overall to Minnesota in 1992. After arriving via trade in Atlanta, his second season totals were some of his best in his career, averaging 18 points a game and 9 rebounds. Not all-star worthy big man numbers per say, and considering he was chosen over Chris Webber who was averaging 20 points and 10 boards a game, this was definitely a bad all-star selection when you realize the players left off the team instead.
14. Dick McGuire – New York Knicks – 1956 All-Star Game – PG
During the mid 50’s, average points per game and rebounds were all slightly lower than you see in present day. So to read Dick McGuire’s stat line of 6.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.8 apg and then realize he was named a starter that year at the all-star game does leave you wondering. He wasn’t a big time scorer and even for his time had low defensive totals in comparison to the rest of the 1956 All-Star starters. However, considering the fact that he was just outside the top 5 in assists per game in the NBA, and also had an alright rebounding average for a point guard, McGuire may not have been a great choice when comparing his numbers to those around him in 56, but he sure isn’t the worst of all-time.
13. Steve Francis – Houston Rockets – 2004 All-Star Game – PG
During the mid 2000’s Stevie Franchise started to wear down in only his fifth full NBA season. His drop would eventually coincide with his trade to the Orlando Magic during the following off-season and he would be moved more than a few times over the final three years of his career. Yet, Francis still snuck his way onto the 2004 Western All-Star squad. Better yet, he was voted a starter somehow with just 16.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.9 apg at the point position. To make matters worse, Francis was starter above Steve Nash (averaging slightly less points but a much better 8.8 assists) and if Stephon Marbury (20.8 ppg & 8.3 apg) had not been traded from Phoenix (West) to New York (East) prior to the ASG, he would have easily been better. Safe to say this was the last hurrah of Stevie Franchise in the spotlight before fading off.
12. Anthony Mason – Miami Heat – 2001 All-Star Game – PF/SF
Anthony Mason’s 2001 appearance is a tough one. He was a former NBA 6th man of the year award winner in 1995 with the New York Knicks and arrived in Miami as a vet to add depth to the front court. Instead he was forced into a starting role and performed admirably averaging 15.5 ppg and 9.6 rpg. However, these numbers were not truly All-Star worthy numbers and for a guy who was a hard working defensive type player that really never modeled his game around skill and finesse, this was a weird selection.
11. Mehmet Okur – Utah Jazz – 2007 All-Star Game – C/PF
After being a second round pick to the Pistons in 2001 and winning a title as a bench player Okur went for the money and playing time in Utah. While he never shone he did put together a few successful seasons with the Jazz but nothing spectacular or all-star worthy. His entry into the 2007 contest was due to a rash of injuries to the front court of Western All-Stars. Therefore, there was almost no other options to go with aside from Okur as one of the backup big men for that year’s matchup and due to this he earned his first and only all-star appearance.
10. Wally Szczerbiak – Minnesota Timberwolves – 2002 All-Star Game – SF
One of the funkier NBA names of all-time, Wally was a sharp shooter from beyond the arc but never really opened his game up to slashing to the basket in order to open himself up for more shots. Therefore, his game never really was of elite skill or talent because he was a very one-way player who stayed beyond the arc for the long bomb rather than mixing it up too often within the paint. Szczerbiak was chosen to represent the West in 2002, and albeit his numbers were solid scoring 18.7 ppg at the time, all he did that year was shoot three pointers and very little of anything else. This lack of skill in an all-around form is why he was truly an undeserving all-star and really a perfect fit for the 3-point contest, but not the big game.
9. Kevin Duckworth – Portland Trail Blazers – 1991 All-Star Game – C
A solid offensive center during the late 80’s and early 90’s with the Trail Blazers, Duckworth was never a sound defensive center, and rather mediocre on the boards throughout his career. Duckworth had actually made the ASG roster for the West in 1989 as a backup with 18 ppg and 8 rpg, which also was a lowly all-star appearance considering his lack of rebounds and not exactly outstanding point totals per game. However, 1991’s second appearance was worse/even more unusual than the first. In 1991 he averaged only 15.8 ppg and 6.6 rpg and those were roughly his totals at the break. Duckworth’s appearance in 1991 was due to a Hakeem Olajuwon injury, but his totals were clearly not worthy of his selection, even if he was a key part of some successful Blazer teams during the early 90’s, the 90-91 season was by far his worst offensively and defensively and somehow he earned a second all-star selection. It would be his last.
8. A.C. Green – Los Angeles Lakers – 1990 All-Star Game – PF
A solid defensive player during his entire career and a championship winning power forward with the Lakers at the beginning and end of it. Green was an all-star for just one season. During the 1989-90 campaign Green averaged a very mediocre 12.9 ppg and 8.7 rpg, and there was nothing too spectacular being done by the Laker big man on either end of the court. There were clearly more worthy players deserving of an appearance for the 1990 classic. Let alone Green got the start! However, there’s no doubting his ability to win and win at the highest level, Green retired with 3 NBA Championships to his name.
7. Tyrone Hill – Cleveland Cavaliers – 1995 All-Star Game – C/PF
In 1994-95 Hill was in his second season with Cleveland trying to make a niche for himself with the club. He was never a scorer, but was always a solid rebounding PF or C for the Warriors and Cavs early in his career. In 1994-95, he averaged 13.8 ppg and 10.9 rpg, both solid numbers and some of his best he would have in his career, but they were not worthy of an appearance in that years ASG. Somehow the coaches chose him over a few players who had averaged 20+ ppg at that point in the season. Most notable of the left outs was Glenn Robinson, who as a rookie for Milwaukee had averaged 22 and 6, and somehow was not given the nod over Hill. Most believe it was simply because he was a rookie, you just can’t get any breaks when you’re a rook can ya! Tyrone Hill didn’t mind though, it was his one and only All-Star appearance.
6. B.J. Armstrong – Chicago Bulls – 1994 All-Star Game – PG
The story of B.J. Armstrong’s 94 ASG start is an intriguing one. As Michael Jordan retired and left the NBA and Chicago Bulls behind, fans of the Bulls needed to shift their all-star votes onto someone new for the upcoming season. That new man happened to surprisingly be point guard B.J. Armstrong. A 5th year man entering his second season as a starter for the Bulls and who averaged 14 points a game that year along with just under 4 assists. Those numbers shouldn’t be regarded as even good for a starter in the NBA. So thanks to fan voting Armstrong earned the start in the 94 game and then was out of a job 6 years later.
5. Brad Miller – Indiana Pacers – 2003 All-Star Game – C
The fact that Brad Miller made the All-Star game twice in consecutive years was kind of like the knowledge that everybody can be an NBA All-Star if they get enough votes or somehow coaches ban together and select one guy. Honestly, i don’t know how he did it, but he made two of these things consecutively on two different teams. The first is the weirdest one. With Indiana in 2002-03 he averaged 13.1 ppg and 8.3 rpg, 2.5 apg and under a block. I’m not sure how he got on with such measly numbers, but as we have witnessed for a period of time now the East looks occasionally like the minor leagues compared to the West. Either way, Miller snuck on and the next year in the major league level West he repeated the feat with at least slightly more respectable numbers.
4. Jamaal Magloire – New Orleans Hornets – 2004 All-Star Game – C
One of a few Canadians to ever make the NBA All-Star team, Magloire was never really an all-star caliber talent, and never should have been there to begin with. Playing for the New Orleans Hornets at the time in his 4th season, Magloire was selected with totals of 12.1 ppg and 9.4 rpg at the break and finished with better totals at the end of the year but nothing worth a selection. It is to be noted that year the West had an array of known big men and the East was picking from a scarce handful of a select few. So being he was a younger player didn’t hurt the chances of Magloire, but he really was not an all-star worthy player.
3. Dale Davis – Indiana Pacers – 2000 All-Star Game – C
The long serving Pacer came into the 1999-2000 season a well known defensive presence. He never averaged 12 ppg in a season, topping off at 11.7 in 93-94 the same year he averaged his one season of 10+ rebounds (10.8). The 1999-2000 season saw him average a poultry 10.0 ppg and 9.9 rpg, almost a double-double but nothing close to worthy of a roster spot on the all-star team. However, a vast array of injuries gave the career defender a slot on the East roster as a backup big man for the game as an injury replacement.
2. James Donaldson – Dallas Mavericks – 1988 All-Star Game – C
In his eighth season with his third team, Donaldson a low scoring but solid rebounding and defensive center would make his one and only all-star appearance, and it should have never been. Coming off what would forever be his best rebounding season, Donaldson actually posted below 10 rpg in 1987-88 and just squeaked in at seven, yes 7.0 ppg. These awful numbers somehow earned him all-star replacement duty with the Western conference due to an injury to backup center Steve Johnson. Unfortunately, low on centers and trying to add position for position as they did at the time, James was chosen as his replacement and there we have one of the weirdest selections in the history of the classic.
1. Yao Ming – Houston Rockets – 2011 All-Star Game – C
Seven feet six inches tall was all you had to say to get people interested in Yao Ming. Funny thing was, he could also play the sport he was built well for, he was no flop in his short lived career with Houston he played 7 strong and successful seasons of all-star worth before suffering the injury that cost him a year of the game. Then in 2010-11 he returned, but it was 5 games before it came crashing to an end once more and this time for the last time. Yao would retire following the injury that cost him his 2010-11 season, but the fans would vote him into the all-star game nonetheless as starter instead of a terrific young rookie who was putting up some terrific numbers named Love in Minnesota. Yao would miss the game and be replaced of course, but his totals of 5 games played and 10.2 ppg and 5.4 rpg rank as the worst for a choice to be represented in the All-Star game. It wasn’t his skill level in question, it was the fact that he was voted a part of it at all by fans. So to anyone who got him in, shame on you for making him the worst NBA all-star selection of all-time.