5 unbreakable NBA All-Star Game records
Whoever said records were made to be broken hasn't been paying very close attention to the NBA All-Star Game. From Bob Pettit’s record for most rebounds in a game to Magic Johnson’s eye-popping assist totals, many of the game's top marks haven't been touched for more than 35 years.
We dusted off the history books and have identified the Association’s five most unbreakable All-Star Game records.
Most minutes in a game: 42
Fans who saw the 1964 NBA All-Star Game at Boston Garden got their money’s worth, as future Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, and Jerry West logged 42 minutes each. Their heavy burn was a reflection both of the era, when top players typically averaged 40 minutes per game, and the limited size of the All-Star Game’s rosters, which consisted of only 10 players at the time.
These days it’s hard to imagine any player coming close to 40 minutes. Just look at LeBron James. The four-time MVP has averaged 29.4 minutes per game in his 16 All-Star appearances and has never surpassed 33. The same is true for fellow Laker Anthony Davis, who has averaged 25.8 minutes in his seven All-Star appearances and has never surpassed 30.
Unlike in years past, coaches are instructed to play all 12-13 players on their roster and are cautioned not to run their stars into the ground.
Most rebounds in a game: 27
There are several things people no longer do—make mix tapes, name their children Wilbur, and pull down 20 rebounds in an All-Star Game. Take a quick glance at the record book, and you’ll see Bob Pettit, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Charles Barkley, Dikembe Mutombo, and Dave Cowens are the only men to ever haul in 20 boards, and none of them have played professionally since 2009.
It isn’t that there aren’t enough missed shots (2019’s All-Star Game featured 141 bricks). It’s just that the game no longer features the kind of blue-collar types that pride themselves on cleaning the glass and doing the little things needed to eke out a win. Until those kinds of players get voted back in, this record is untouchable.
Most assists in a game: 22
Few players have ever been able to pass the rock quite like Magic Johnson, so it should come as little surprise that the former Laker holds All-Star Game records for most total assists and most assists in a game.
Magic’s 22-dime gem came in 1984, but it should come with an asterisk, as it took 37 minutes of playing time and an overtime game to achieve the mark. Even though scores have been trending upward, it’s unlikely anyone will log enough minutes (or dish out enough look-away passes) to approach Magic’s lofty record.
Fewest combined points: 154
The NBA established a depressing low-water mark in 1953, when the East and West All-Stars combined for a paltry 154 points. Compare that to 2018, when Team LeBron and Team Giannis combined for 154 points at the half. The average combined score of the last five games has been 340, and that number is likely to continue to rise, as players keep raining down threes with ruthless efficiency.
Highest attendance: 108,713
The NBA could barely give away tickets to its inaugural All-Star Game at the Boston Garden in 1951. But that was no longer a problem by 2010, when 108,713 fans passed through the turnstiles of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas to cheer on the best ballers in the world.
The massive turnout generated plenty of headlines, but the terrible sight lines and lack of intimacy made for a second-rate live product. The NBA is unlikely to experiment with such a super-sized venue again.