Tag Archives: Los Angeles Lakers

Free Agency Watch List

 

NBA Free Agents 2014: Updated Rankings of Top 5 Players at Every Position

Eric Gay- Associated Press

     As we await July 1st for the start of NBA free agency, the free agent class of this summer that is being presented to us is intriguing. Very few marquee players are available that can change a franchise immediately, but many players are capable of being the missing piece to a championship puzzle. Here are the top free agents to keep on your radar during the off-season.

 

 

Pau Gasol Injury: Updates on Lakers Forward's Groin and Return

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Pau Gasol

 

     The past two seasons for Pau Gasol has been rough as he has been on a team consisting of disloyalty and lack of trust between a player and a head coach that was Mike D’Antoni. While being put in difficult positions and rumored in various trade talks, he would average 17.4 ppg and 9.7 rpg in an injury riddled season. Gasol is not the go to player he once was in the early stages of his Lakers career and as a member of the Grizzlies, but he is more than capable of being a reliable option for a championship contending team.

 

 

Kelly L Cox- USA Today

 

 Isaiah Thomas

The former last pick of the 2011 NBA Draft has come into the league and surprised many by what he has been able to do for the Sacramento Kings. Averaging career highs with 20.3 points per game and 6.3 assists per game, his numbers have been comparable to the number one pick in his draft who happened to be Kyrie Irving. The 5’9″ point guard is becoming a household name that will receive a lucrative for his talents at his position that is valued.

 

 

Daniel Shirey- USA Today

 

Lance Stephenson

 

     Lance Stephenson has made himself a hot commodity for free agency this summer after having a breakout season as he became a focal point of the Indiana Pacers success. Yet, the antics on display during the postseason in the Eastern Conference Finals may have cost him millions of dollars while showing us the immaturity that once hindered his draft position. Stephenson is a unique player who can play and defend multiple positions along with having star potential, but the concern for him is if he can control his emotions on the basketball court.

 

 

Christian Petersen- Getty Images

Gordon Hayward
 
     It will be interesting to see where Gordon Hayward will land in free agency after Utah decided not to offer a contract extension. On the right team, Hayward can be a difference maker who can elevate his team to the next level with his talents and versatility at the wing position. As a member of the Jazz, he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. Seeking a lucrative contract, teams may shy away from him for his desire of big dollars wanted. If some team grants him his wish, Utah is set to match their offer.

 

NBA Free Agency

Gary A. Vasquez- Getty Images

Nick Young
     As the Los Angeles Lakers season was filled with injuries and disappointment , the one bright spot that kept fans excited was the on and off the court performance of Nick Young. In his return home, Young has arguably had his best season in his seven year career averaging 17.9 ppg. ‘Swaggy P’ will look to return to his hometown team under a long term contract that will keep him in purple and gold for years to come. The idea of bringing him back to the Lakers should be a top priority this offseason as he will become a target for teams looking for instant offense to uplift them.

Mark J. Rebilas- USA Today Sports


Eric Bledsoe
 

     In his first season as a starter, Eric Bledsoe found a home in the Phoenix Suns where early success was found during the 2013-14 season. It was a short stint season for Bledsoe as he sidelined with a knee injury. However, he would show promise as he averaged 17.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, and 5.5 apg and is now known for his defense. His return to Phoenix may be slim to none with the recent draft acquisition of TJ Warren in the NBA Draft with no qualifying offer being proposed to him, making him an unrestricted free agent. The success of the Suns without Bledsoe may also be a factor in whether to pay the dynamic point guard. For his talents, teams will be willing to offer him top dollar where the feeling from the Suns is not mutual.

Report: Los Angeles Lakers Interested in Kyle Lowry During 2014 Free Agency

Kathy Willens- Associated Press

Kyle Lowry

    Kyle Lowry’s breakout season with the Toronto Raptors has led him to being a marquee free agent acquisition during this off-season. With trade rumors swirling around him for majority of the season, he was able to perform at a high level averaging career highs 17.9 ppg and 7.4 apg and becoming Toronto’s leader on the floor with his play and emotionally. Lowry can take his talents elsewhere to elevate a teams chances of fulfilling his championship aspirations.

 

Longest-Tenured Houston Rocket, Chandler Parsons, Is Also Likely Most Important

Scott Halleran- Getty Images

Chandler Parsons

     After the recent story of the Houston Rockets deciding to decline the option to maintain Chandler Parsons, the market for the small forward has became more attractive for him. Helping Houston lure in Dwight Howard, he would be the glue guy to this team with his play on both ends of the floor while improving his offensive game as he goes forward with a career high 16.6 ppg and 5 rpg. In Parsons case, a team may overpay for Parsons due to a high demand of interest by other teams. Being a 6’10 small forward will also help as teams will look for a wing that can deal with the likes of a Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, and Kevin Durant.

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Chris Bosh Says Miami Heat 'Must Win' Game 4 of 2014 NBA Finals

USA Today Sports

Chris Bosh

     Coming off a sub par season to his standards, Chris Bosh has became under appreciated in South Beach. Having catered to Miami’s game plan revolved around LeBron James can be a detriment to the team’s success, more plays should have been called for Bosh during games as he would display his clutch ability in moments. Although, the situation that was brought upon him has also improved Bosh’s overall game by expanding his outside perimeter game that leads to bringing out the opponents best big man into unfamiliar territories. A center in today’s NBA who can play both offense and defense at an exceptional level is rare. Bosh can easily become a second option elsewhere for a team who is looking to get over the hump of being a championship team if Miami is not willing to make him one.

 

 

The Detroit Pistons Have a Major Greg Monroe Dilemma

Rick Osentoski- USA Today Sports

 

 

Greg Monroe

     Greg Monroe’s name has been mentioned with many teams as a potential addition to their roster for next season. While playing for the Detroit, he may be unknown to many outside the Motor City. Monroe continues to remain consistent with his play, but also can be a household name with the right team in a major market with the right supporting cast around him. At 24 years old, he has not reached his ceiling that makes him more attracting to teams moving in a new direction. Monroe’s addition could work out immediately along the likes  of the Bobcats signing Al Jefferson last offseason. Monroe is a blue collar player who comes to work with his lunch box ready to go.

 

New York Knicks Giving Carmelo Anthony Every Reason to Leave in 2014 Free Agency

Daniel Shirey- USA Today Sports

Carmelo Anthony

 

     Carmelo Anthony’s journey has been well documented starting with the force trade from Denver to  New York all the way until the present where he has chosen to opt out of his final contract to become a free agent. Having to carry a heavy load of the work last season, the same may await Anthony next season with majority of the same players under contract for next season. The chances of Carmelo returning to the Big Apple are slim to none with what is set in place looking forward to destinations such as the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets becoming more appealing for a chance to win a NBA title and cement his legacy as a great during his era.

LeBron James' Mask Hides Miami Heat's Real Story vs. New York Knicks

Steve Mitchell- USA Today Sports

LeBron James

 
     LeBron James created headlines by making the choice of opting out of his current contract that has now led to many teams preparing to make a pitch to the best player in the NBA. Does this give any implications of him leaving Miami? Not at all. The Miami Heat will do anything possible to retain James by any means. By opting out of his deal, King James is allowed to re-sign for a max contract that is well deserved while giving the Heat a chance to bolster its roster with talent that can take the pressure off of himself. Miami is has already made a step in the right direction in acquiring Shabazz Napier via trade during the NBA Draft, who LeBron is a huge fan of. Assuming Chris Bosh & Dwyane Wade come back to accept less money, it gives the team a chance to appease James with his needs.
 
     While we await the decision from LeBron James, teams have to remember not to focus on one player, running the risk of missing the opportunity to bring in exceptional players that are available. The free agency season is around the corner with plenty of players who are ready to step in right away and contribute to a new franchise. Other players that could become a factor on teams include Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, Loul Deng, and Patty Mills as well as possible big trades with players like Rajon Rondo or Kevin Love. Let the July fireworks begin.

 

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Risk or Reward: Top 5 NBA Draft Prospects

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We are just a few days away from the 2014 NBA Draft, many prospects have made themselves a household name during team workouts which has improved their draft stock. It is casual for general managers and talent scouts to get caught in the moment of what a player is capable of when nobody impedes their progress. Here are the top five players to keep an eye on while we await draft day.

 

Bleacher Report

Bleacher Report

 

5. P.J. Hairston

 

During his time span at North Carolina, sharp shooter P.J. Hairston was becoming a focal point of the Tar Heels’ success. Many would believe Hairston was sorely missed by the Tar Heels in powder during the early portion of the season. However, off-season troubles would derail his college career where the repercussions led to the dismissal from the team this past season. Making the leap to the NBA D-League, Hairston has shown his talents that may translate well to the next level averaging 21.8 points per game in 26 games with the Texas Legends. His ability to perform will not be in question, rather the growth of maturity are bound to raise caution flags to teams.

 

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today

 

4. Aaron Gordon

 

Freshman phenom Aaron Gordon has made himself a hot commodity in the draft process with his athletic abilities that has drawn many comparisons to Blake Griffin. Is that enough to qualify him as a potential lottery pick? The Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year has displayed his exceptional work ethic along with his versatility as he shows promise to excel at the next level on both ends of the floor. In order to succeed that, he must improve his offensive repertoire outside the paint and a much needed tune up at the free throw line. Can Gordon become a franchise player, or a role player that never could become a star is the question surrounding this Wildcat.

 

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

Jim McIsaa- Getty Images

 

3. Zach LaVine

 

Coming off the bench for UCLA Bruins this season, Zach LaVine would show flashes of talents in spurts early in his one and done season, averaging 10 ppg on 45% shooting. He has appalled us with his leaping ability at NBA Draft Combine and workouts that has put his name into the lottery discussion. It would not be the first time a player coming off the bench would go on to be selected as a lottery pick. It happened with Cleveland’s Dion Waiters. Even though inconsistency was on display, you could expect changes in the NBA with the  right coaching and playing system to fit LaVine’s open court uptempo game, he can flourish as a combo guard at 6’5″. Or perhaps become the next Austin Rivers. Patience will be key with LaVine because of being a raw talent.

 

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2. Dario Saric

 

The name Dario Saric has surfaced throughout the NBA Draft process of being a top 10 pick. In fact, just before last year’s draft he pulled his name off the big board.

What do we know about him?

He is a 6’10” swing man who can play both forward positions  at an efficient rate while being able to handle the ball. Averaging 15.4 ppg and 9.4 rpg in 47 games overseas, the Croatian playmaker is fluid offensively along with a great feel of what’s going on at all times on the court. However, his inconsistency on offense and being a liability on defense may cause his stock to drop. Winning a championship and MVP at the age of 20, his experience and youth will not be undervalued in the NBA going forward.

What we do not know about Saric is the role he will play on a NBA team or when we will make his NBA debut when drafted after recently agreeing to remain in Europe for two more years. It will take the perfect system for Saric can utilize his skill set at the next level. It will be interesting to see what NBA team will commit to him with no certainty of when he will come to America to play. Think of Danilo Gallinari when you hear Saric’s name and ceiling as a player.

 

Denny Meddley- USA Today

Denny Meddley- USA Today

 

1. Joel Embiid

 

Joel Embiid has the potential to become the best player in this draft in many years to come. Being a game changer on defense now, his offensive game showed improvement throughout the college basketball season. With the back injury and now recently suffering a foot injury, red flags are raised around Embiid that could derail his draft stock. The names of Greg Oden, Yao Ming, and Bill Walton have been mentioned when talking about big men with injuries when it comes to drafting Embiid first overall. Yet, many teams should be weary of missing out on an opportunity to change a franchise around a position that has diminished over years.

 

Ode to Los Angeles Lakers

 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

 

Finally there is an end to what has been a nightmare saga for the Los Angeles Lakers. To the dismay of many fans, this season has abruptly come to an end after the worst finish in franchise history. Whether the it was the normal attrition rate due to injuries, subpar coaching, or lackluster talent on the court, this season resulted in mediocre productivity as the Lakers front office management is left searching for the solution to rebound next season.

 

Finishing 27-55, 14th in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers will own at least a top 9 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft where they would have options to select from, including freshmen phenoms Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. Player personnel obligations will be a main priority to attend to. With Kobe Bryant and Robert Sacre guaranteed to return to the roster next season, the contract of Steve Nash should be in consideration of termination. The 40 year old point guard has $9.7 million dollars on the current contract for the 2014-15 season; however, he has only played 65 games total in the last two seasons for Los Angeles.

With Pau Gasol becoming a free agent and Nick Young likely to opt out of his current contract for a lucrative deal, the summer of free agency will be intriguing to follow as the Lakers will look to improve their roster while looking forward to the following offseason in 2016.

 

The coaching decision to obtain or fire head coach Mike D’Antoni will be a tedious process for Los Angeles as well. The hiring made of D’Antoni over former Lakers head coach Phil Jackson made many fans furious of the decision made by Jim Buss. It has not paid dividends for Los Angeles with the coaching record being 62-87, which is below average to the Lakers championship standard that we are accustomed to seeing. Many of the Lakers players have been critical of D’Antoni including Kobe Bryant. Some of them have admitted that they might not return if he is still the head coach. While the roster has became a revolving door of various lineups due to injuries, a key component to the Lakers woes could be the frenetic offensive pace D’Antoni has taught throughout his career. Giving up 120+ points to opponents in 16 games, his pace has led to career nights for various players.

 

The front office of Lakers management have many questions to answer going into the offseason swirling around the historic franchise. With uncertainty of who might end up running the organization in Jim and Jeanie Buss, the debacle of this season will not be acceptable next season to the fans and to themselves. It is time for the soap opera in tinsel town to come to an end and write a new chapter in order to regain the title. The Los Angeles Clippers have risen during these dark times for the Lakers.

61 vs. 81

 

On Monday, we all witnessed the latest chapter of achievements in LeBron James illustrious career as he eclipsed the 60 point plateau. The career high total of 61 points also became the franchise single game scoring record in Miami Heat history. While scoring 25 points to match the total points the Charlotte Bobcats scored in the third quarter, James would finish the game shooting a staggering 22-33 from the field. The question many have been left with is: Where does this game rank in comparison to Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game?

 

 

The 81 point game versus the Toronto Raptors by Kobe Bryant may be the best single game performance we have ever seen. With a more than lackluster roster that featured Smush Parker and Kwame Brown, Bryant was forced to carry a heavy load throughout the season. This game was no different for The Black Mamba. Shooting over 50% from the field, his shot selection was high demanding, yet never in question as Phil Jackson and Kobe’s teammates were desperate for a win. The Raptors put forth a valiant effort as they threw multiple schemes at him, but to no avail.

 

 

The historic night of LeBron James comes during the final stretch of the 2013-14 regular season where he looks to win his 5th Most Valuable Player Award. Overshadowing the performance of Al Jefferson who finished with 38 points and 19 rebounds, King James played with a killer instinct that we have never seen. It was almost as if he was trying to make us remember why he is the best basketball player in the world as supposed to playing second fiddle to Kevin Durant. Shooting 66% from the field was incredible in itself, aggressively attacking Charlotte’s defense at will. In spite of that, James would go on a shooting clinic that we have never seen in his career as he shot 8-10 from the 3 point line, making his first eight attempts.

 

 

However, how significant is this performance?

 

It is hard to give such enormous credit to James for his performance of 61 points with New York Knicks All-Star Carmelo Anthony scoring 62 points against the same defensively challenged Bobcats team. The puzzling performance from James is remarkable, however does not compare to the all time great scoring performances the NBA has seen.

 

There are many games left to play in his career, we can not make the final decision until it is all set and done. However, this particular performance in comparison to the 81 point game of Kobe Bryant does not measure to another.

NBA Mid-Season Awards

     We have reached the halfway mark through the 2013-14 NBA season. One that has been filled with enticing highlights from superstars along with the surprising play of teams improving from the previous season. On the other side, we watch some of our favorite players get knocked down, once again, by injuries. Before we embark on the second half of the season, we discuss the selections of our mid season awards.

Rookie of the Year- Michael Carter-Williams

    It has been a sub par season for the NBA rookies, overall. However, despite the play of rookie guard Victor Oladipo, there is no rookie playing as well as Michael Carter-Williams. The 6’6″ guard has shown the ability to be a leader on the court, leading all rookies in scoring, assists, and steals. While injuries have been a burden to him, the sky is the limit for Carter-Williams as he improves to become an elite guard in this league.

Most Improved Player of the Year- Lance Stephenson

     Kudos to Lance Stephenson as he continues to make leaps of progression in his game for the Indiana Pacers. Remembered for his choke sign given to LeBron James during the 2011-12 NBA Playoffs, he is, now having his best season thus far. Averaging a career high in points, rebounds, assists, the sporadic play of Stephenson has been under control for majority of this season and it brings Indiana excitement to its fans. Also, it gives his team another weapon to rely on. The man who is proclaimed to be  ‘Born Ready’ deserves heavy all-star consideration as he will become a hot commodity on the free agent market this offseason. Not to mention, he is a walking triple double waiting to happen as he leads the league with three.

Sixth Man of the Year- Nick Young

      As the nightmare of a season continues for the Los Angeles Lakers, Nick Young gives Laker nation something to cheer for. After the early season move to the bench, ‘Swaggy P’ has been nothing less than spectacular, leading the team in scoring averaging 17 points per game. It may be difficult for him to win the award due to the minimum success of Los Angeles has had despite being the team’s most consistent player this year.

Defensive Player of the Year- Roy Hibbert

     As the Indiana Pacers are atop of every defensive category, Roy Hibbert is the anchor of that side of the ball. Hibbert is the backbone of this team as his defensive post presence allows perimeter defenders to be more aggressive. When they play aggressive on the perimeter, it allows Hibbert to erase any mistakes that were made. The Pacers postseason success is relied on the defense of the big man in the middle.

Coach of the Year- Jeff Hornacek

      Before the 2013-14 season began, everybody had the Phoenix Suns projected to finish in the bottom half of the Western Conference. Head coach Jeff Hornacek has surpassed critics expectations as they are among teams in the playoff hunt after missing the postseason the previous three seasons. Without rising star Eric Bledsoe out with a knee injury, he is doing a great job with the roster led by Goran Dragic. On pace to eclipse the win total from the previous year, Hornacek has his team playing very well as they are improving as the season moves into the second half.

Most Valuable Player- Kevin Durant

     With all due respect to the magnificent play of LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul George, and LeBron James this season, Kevin Durant has seperated himself from his competition thus far. While averaging a career high in assists, Durant is scoring the ball at a rapid pace and with great efficiency averaging 36.5 ppg since Russell Westbrook has been sidelined with a knee injury. What’s more remarkable is how Durant has scored his points with 69% unassisted without Westbrook compared to 41% with him. It is important for Durant to stay assertive on the offensive end while continuing to be a play maker until Westbrook returns. As we await, Durant must continue to carry the work load for the team in order to maintain success going forward.

Top 10 2014 NBA Draft Prospects

     We live in a NBA state of mind where teams are preparing to set themselves up for the future. Whether it is acquiring draft picks in exchange for feature players, or teams “tanking” in order to position themselves for a potential lottery pick for this years upcoming draft.  With many talented prospects preparing for the 2014 NBA Draft, we take a look at the top 10 Draft Prospects.

10. Gary Harris- Michigan State

Gary Harris is a player who can play on both sides of the floor, which is not found in many college players transitioning into the league. He’s not a player who will excite you with athleticism, however, he can score the ball in various ways that will benefit a NBA team in the future. Harris might have been drafted higher a year ago, but he will have less expectations wherever he is drafted. Returning to school may have been the best decision because as he prefers to let his game speak volume.

9. Rodney Hood- Duke University

The transfer from Mississippi State has been an incredible acquisition to Duke this season. Rodney Hood can score the ball at an efficient rate, shooting 51% from the field. He is not the type of athlete who is willing to defend the best perimeter player, but has the opportunity to flourish at the next level with his size and ability on the offensive end.

8. Noah Vonleh- Indiana University

Noah Vonleh is an outstanding freshman who has a lot of promise to his game. While being a raw talent on offense, Vonleh’s athleticism combined with his length and versatility makes him a hot commodity providing defense and rebounding to his team. He will only get better as the season progresses and adjusts to the speed of college basketball.

Southern University v Arizona

7. Aaron Gordon University of Arizona

Aaron Gordon is arguably the most athletic prospect this season. Gordon draws many comparisons to All-Star forward Blake Griffin with his high motor on both ends of the court, posting 5 double doubles thus far. However, Gordon’s true position may be in question in the NBA being undersize as a power forward and perimeter play being a detriment to his game. He hardly handles the ball for Arizona, so the combine and private sessions with teams will determine where he will play.

6. Dante Exum- Australia

Dante Exum can play both guard positions while possessing the combination of athleticism and finesse skills. The Australian point guard is explosive as a scorer and ball handler that many rave about. His perimeter jump shot is still improving, being a huge weakness for Exum. It also helps that he is 6’6 adds an element to his game giving him the advantage to look over defenders at the point guard position.

5. Marcus Smart- Oklahoma State University

Marcus Smart has became the best combo guard in College Basketball. The 6’4″ sophomore guard has exceptional size and strength that will serve him as an asset at the next level. While needing to improve his court vision and jump shot, Smart is a crafty scorer who can also defend both guard positions very well.

4. Julius Randle- University of Kentucky

You can make the argument that Julius Randle may be the most ready to play in a NBA game today amongst these prospects. Having similarities to Zach Randolph, the dominant freshman can score and rebound the basketball with his athleticism and strength around the basket. Standing at 6’9″, Randle may be undersized to play the power forward position in the league. His athleticism, sheer strength, and bulldog demeanor will allow him to contend with the NBA’s big men.

3. Joel Embiid- Kansas University

Joel Embiid is the most coveted center in this season’s upcoming draft. While improving his offense, Embiid has shown flashes in the low post area that has became a lost art in today’s big men. He has also proven to be an anchor on the defensive end with his length, size, and potential drawing comparisons to Hakeem Olajuwon. He has a slight frame, but he is young. Working with NBA trainers will allow him to improve his strength and be able to withstand the rigors of an 82 game season.

2. Andrew Wiggins- Kansas University

Andrew Wiggins is the most coveted college player to enter the draft this season. Wiggins has the athleticism and length that has NBA scouts salivating. He is a great defender who can guard both wing positions. His offensive game is predicated on slashing to the rim, but he has also shown that he is able to knock down the three point shot. However, he will need to knock that shot down at a consistent rate to keep opposing players on their heels on defense.

1. Jabari Parker- Duke University

Parker is ready to play in the NBA right now. He is a high volume scorer while being a blue collar hard nosed player who leads by example. He goes through shooting slumps during games, but is never hesitant to rise to the big occasion. On the other end, Parker will not change the impact during the course of the game on the defensive end as he continues to improve as a player. Still, Jabari Parker is one of few players who can have an immediate impact on a NBA team today.

MJ Mondays- 1988 NBA All-Star Weekend

Michael Jordan would use this All-Star weekend as a platform to display his talents to the basketball world. Not only would he win his second consecutive NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Jordan would put on one of the most dominant performances in All-Star game history.

With competitors such as Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, and Spud Webb, MJ would retain his NBA Slam Dunk Contest title, defeating the “Human Highlight Film”, Dominique Wilkins, in an unforgettable showdown that would be forever embedded in NBA history.

In the 38th annual All-Star game, being played in Chicago Stadium, various high caliber players were selected and performed in this matchup including Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, Isaiah Thomas, and Patrick Ewing to represent the Eastern Conference against the talents of Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Hakeem Olajuwon to headline the Western Conference. However, it would be Michael Jordan to reign supremacy to end the weekend.

Jordan showcased what he was able to do on the basketball court. Being honored as the Most Valuable Player, he would go on to finish with 40 points, eight rebounds while showcasing his defensive skills as he contributed with fours steals and four blocks. MJ would score his finals 16 points in the final six minutes of the game as the Eastern All-Stars would defeat the West All-Stars 138-133. Wilkins contributed to the victory with 29 points as the starters for the Western Conference finished in double figures. In his 17th All-Star selection, Abdul-Jabbar would score 10 points, passing Oscar Robertson as the all-time leading scorer in All-Star Game history.

With Michael Jordan’s scintillating performance in one weekend, the NBA may never see such dominance on display by one superstar in multiple events. With many big names withdrawing their names from Slam Dunk Contest, or players not competing at a 100% level throughout the entire All-Star game, MJ jumpstarted his legacy and opened the eyes of many across the league.