HORSE, Legends and more: Remembering forgotten NBA All-Star events of the past

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This weekend, the full force of the NBA will descend on Toronto for All-Star Weekend for three days of action-packed events that will leave spectators in awe. Each day will have a few events, from the Celebrity All-Star Game on Friday to the All-Star Game itself on Sunday.

With the NBA comes the fans of all thirty teams that will enjoy these events, just like they have done for years past. For fans viewing the event broadly, it may seem like much of the same thing each year, with the city and players involved being the only change.

Yet, over the years some All-Star events have been left in the past, let’s take a look at some of these events.

The NBA All-Star H–O–R–S–E Competition

H-O-R-S-E is a game enjoyed around the world by basketball players and fans of all ages. The shooting game, where one player takes an unconventional shot or takes a shot from an unconventional location in the hope that their opponent can’t mimic the shot, has been part of the NBA’s All-Star festivities a few times.

While not part of All-Start weekend, the first time the NBA saw a taste of H-O-R-S-E was during the 1977-1978 season. What was unique about this “game” of H-O-R-S-E was that it was played in tournament style and the games of H-O-R-S-E were shown during regular season and playoff games.

In 2009, during All-Star Weekend in Arizona, the NBA (unofficially) introduced The NBA All-Star H–O–R–S–E Competition (also called the NBA All–Star G–E–I–C–O Competition). This game was similar to the game played by most people, but some rules were altered.

In the NBA’s version:

- No dunking was allowed.
- Players had 24 seconds each to create and mimic shots.
- An NBA referee authenticated the new shots (that the player executed what he announced) and any mimic shot.

While slightly different, the main premise remained the same. 2009 saw Kevin Durant, OJ Mayo, and Joe Johnson go head-to-head. Durant, who was the eventual winner, came close to elimination, finishing the night with “G-E-I-C.” (the letters were changed to G-E-I-C-O) While close, he was able to stave off Johnson and Mayo long enough to take home the crown.

2010 saw Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo, and Omri Casspi go up against one another in the second year H-O-R-S-E was played during All-Star Weekend. While Casspi was eliminated eventually, there were four different runs where there were five straight misses. When it came down to the last few minutes of the competition, Durant and Rondo only had H-O. The two began to take three-point attempts until one of them missed three times.

At the time, Durant was a career 37% shooter from beyond the arc and Rondo sat at 26%, while close, it was barely a competition at that point. Durant went on to win this one as well.

All-Star Weekend in 2011 did not see a H-O-R-S-E competition, likely due to the how the 2010 competition ended. While it was a fun event for people to watch, the results weren’t as expected and it was decided that it wouldn’t be part of the events in 2011.

The NBA All-Star Legends Game

In 1984, the NBA added The NBA All-Star Legends Game to All-Star Weekend to complement the already existing Slam Dunk competition. It was a look to the past, an opportunity for younger fans to watch players they never got to before and for older fans to turn back the clock and watch their childhood favorites battle it out once again.

The first Legends Game, also known as the Legends Classic, was held in 1984 and saw a nine-year run as the last was played in 1993.

Similar to the All-Star game itself, there was an East and a West and a “regular” basketball game was played. Throughout its time as an event, fans got to see players such as Oscar Robertson, Rick Barry, George Gervin, Dave Cowens, Dave DeBusschere go at it once again.

The NBA eventually decided that the injuries from the game were hurting rather than helping to make All-Star Weekend more enjoyable and, as a result, decided to rule it out as an event in 1994. Additionally the age range of the players, which also resulted in varying levels of fitness, changed the gameplay to an extent.

It would be interesting to see how this event would work out in present day with players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal going at it once again.

The Shooting Stars Competition

While not necessarily forgotten, the Shooting Stars Competition will not be held in 2016 in Toronto. The Shooting Stars Competition was an event held that involved a current NBA player, a WNBA player, and a retired NBA player as a team, going up against other teams of the same combination.

From 2004 to 2012, cities were represented by players, but in 2013, an NBA player got to choose the WNBA player and retiree they’d play with.

The competition was time-based and involved shooting from (four) different locations on the court, each shot harder to make than the one before.

The shots were:
- The first shot is a 10-ft bank shot from the right angle
- The second is straight-on jumper from the top of the key
- The third is an NBA three-pointer from the left angle
- The fourth is a half-court shot.

Each location has a two-minute time limit and in the end, the two fastest teams go again in a final head-to-head round.

The event was first held in 2003. Team San Antonio became the competition’s first two-time winner when they won for the second time in 2008 and in 2009, Team Detroit won their second title as well.

Team Bosh, consisting of Chris Bosh, Swin Cash, and Dominique Wilkins won for the first time in 2013 and went on to win in 2014 and 2015.

It was decided that the event would not be held in 2016.

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