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On This Date in Sports February 13, 1983: NBA All-Stars Shine at the Forum

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The All-Stars come to Los Angeles, as the Forum in Inglewood hosts the 33rd Annual NBA All-Star Game. The Eastern Conference wins the day on the court, beating the Western Conference 132-123 as Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers wins the All-Star Game MVP for the second time in his career. The game is best remembered for Marvin Gaye’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner before the game.

As the NBA played the 1982/83 season, it was on the verge of a new surge in popularity. Players like Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers began to take over the league. Meanwhile, old veterans like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Lakers and Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers were still the faces of the league as the Lakers and Sixers were in the midst of meeting in the NBA Finals three times in four years.

The Lakers and Sixers were the head of the class going into the All-Star Game as Pat Riley of the host Lakers served as the coach of the Western Conference, while Philadelphia’s Billy Cunningham coached the All-Stars from the Eastern Conference. The 1983 NBA All-Star Game was the final one oversaw by Larry O’Brien as Commissioner, as David Stern would assume the office in 1984. It was also the last All-Star Game, which was a standalone event as the Slam Dunk Contest began in 1984.

Before the game began, Motown legend Marvin Gaye took to the floor to perform the National Anthem. Instead of a traditional performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, Gaye gave a soulful performance complete with a drum machine that stole the show. By the time Marvin Gaye was finished, the entire crowd was clapping to the rhythm.

The Eastern Conference got off to a fast start, scoring 42 points in the first quarter, with Julius Erving putting on a dazzling display of dunks. The West, meanwhile, was led by a pair of Laker stars, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, who had 20 and 17 points, respectively. The East maintained the lead at the half 69-64. In the third quarter, it was more Dr. J. as the Eastern Conference expanded the lead to 103-90. The Western Conference never quite got back in the game, as the Eastern Conference won the All-Star game for the fourth straight year 132-123. Julius Erving of the 76ers won the All-Star Game MVP for the second time with game-high 25 points and six rebounds. He had previously won the MVP in the 1977 All-Star Game in Milwaukee.

Among the other notable performances for the Eastern Conference was Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons. He scored 19 points with seven assists, while Sidney Moncrief of the Milwaukee Bucks had 20 points. Larry Bird was the leading rebounder, recording a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards, and seven assists. Magic Johnson was the top player for the West, with 17 points, 16 assists, and five rebounds.

With their win, the Eastern Conference held a 22-11 advantage in the history of the All-Star Game.