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On This Date in Sports February 8, 1998: Stars on Broadway

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The biggest stars in Basketball come to Broadway for the first NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden in 30 years. With a work stoppage looming and the breakup of the Chicago Bulls on the horizon, the game is the end of an era with Michael Jordan leading the way with a third All-Star Game MVP award with 23 points, six rebounds, and eight assists as the East beats the West 135-114.

There was a sense of a changing of the guard for the NBA All-Star Weekend in New York, as many of the league’s top players were nearing the end of their careers, with a new crop of stars coming along. One of the new-era players was Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, who, at the age of 19, was the youngest player ever to make an NBA All-Star team. A major letdown of the weekend was the lack of a dunk contest, which was done away with as the NBA tried to introduce a new competition called “2-Ball,” incorporating players from the WNBA while Jeff Hornacek of the Utah Jazz won the Three-Point Contest.

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Battling flu-like symptoms, and believing it to be his final All-Star appearance, Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls sought to shine brightly at Madison Square Garden in New York as he had much time before. Overall, it was the fourth time the NBA All-Star Game was held in New York, though it was the first in the current building as the 1968 All-Star Game had been one of the final events at the old Madison Square Garden on 50th street and Eighth Avenue.

With a Broadway theme to the pregame introduction and several Broadway plays highlighted in the halftime show, the Eastern Conference, coached by Larry Bird of the Indiana Pacers, got off to a fast start outscoring the Western Conference led by George Karl from the Seattle Supersonics 33-25. Starters Michael Jordan of the Bulls and Grant Hill of the Detroit Pistons were responsible for the fast start for the East, especially Hill, who shot 64% from the field. The East continued their hot shooting in the second quarter as they outscored the West 34-33 and led 67-58 at the break.

The Eastern Conference continued to find the range in the third quarter as they scored 34 points and continued building on their lead. The East scored 34 points in the fourth quarter, pulling away to a manageable 135-114 win, as they showed remarkable consistency throughout the game. Michael Jordan was the game’s leading scorer and MVP, with 23 points, six boards, and eight dimes. Meanwhile, Grant Hill made 7-of-11 shots and had 15 points. Shawn Kemp of the Cleveland Cavaliers with 11 rebounds and Jayson Williams of the New Jersey Nets with ten were Eastern Conference chairmen of the boards, as Glenn Rice of the Charlotte Hornets was the top scorer off the bench with 16 points.

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For the West, the 19-year-old Kobe Bryant scored 18 points, and Gary Payton of the Sonics had 13 assists. Eddie Jones of the Lakers had 15 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Tim Duncan playing in his first All-Star Game also had 11 boards but made just one basket, while teammate David Robinson bouncing back from a lost season, also had 15 points off the bench.