Between Triple-Dubs: Six Great ASG Performances that Didn’t Win MVP
It is 2011 and basketball is different. Players dunk with their toes completely behind the foul line, and they bag All-Star triple doubles with 29 points instead of 14, and they collect 37 points and 14 boards at age 32. That last line belongs to the great Kobe Bryant, who produced a brilliant turn-back-the-clock performance in Sunday’s All-Star Game, an avalanche of attacking dunks and up-and-unders and fall-away gems that was just enough to bury the East.
But the 29-point triple-double belonged to Miami’s LeBron James, who in the fourth quarter resembled a high school senior playing against 13-year-olds. Had the East stolen the game, James would have undoubtedly won his third ASG MVP. Instead, the trophy belonged to the venerable Bryant.
James’s ASG triple-dub predecessor Jordan was also denied MVP honors. This got the wheels turning. I said to myself, “Self, what were the greatest All-Star Game performances that did not win MVP?” And then, to keep the proceedings sane and timely, I decided to frame my sample between 1997 and 2011, the first ASG triple-double, and now the second.
My favorite six, in chronological order:
Kobe Bryant, 1998: 18 points on 7 of 16 shooting, with six rebounds.
We start with Bryant, the youngest player voted a starter in the game’s history, and while still a sixth man on his own team no less. Even from television, the electricity and fervor at Madison Square Garden for any big basketball game is unmistakable; this one featured Michael Jordan in his presumed final season, Reggie Miller at the height of his New York powers, reigning league MVP Karl Malone, and the rookie Tim Duncan.
Jordan won the game’s MVP, but nobody stirred the soup quite like the 19-year-old Bryant. The second-year Los Angeles Laker caught and threw oops with fellow youngin’ Kevin Garnett, turned announcer Isiah Thomas into a babbling mess, and led the Western Conference in scoring with 18 points. A fine start to a great ASG career.
*** FEBRUARY 25, 2011 UPDATE ***
This post has been moved to ChicagoNow.com, where I am now a contributor! To read the rest, click here.