At its core, the NBA All-Star Game is a fun exhibition putting the league's best players against one another.
For one night a year, the greatest collection of basketball talent in the world is sharing one court.
And while the game's score doesn't matter in the big picture of league legacy, players throughout the decades have put on awe-inspiring performances.
In fact, NBA All-Star is the perfect chance for the top players in the league to prove themselves against the most skilled opponents that they'll face all season.
In honor of NBA All-Star 2020 taking the historic event back to Chicago, we're counting down the five greatest performances in NBA All-Star Game history. Hint: a certain Chicago legend tops this list.
5. Isiah Thomas — NBA All-Star 1986
Final Score: East 139, West 132
NBA All-Star 1986 had one of the most star-studded rosters of players in the game's history.
Here's some names: Larry Bird, Dominique Wilkins, Moses Malone, Julius Irving, Robert Parish, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.
Quite a list.
But the one name excluded from that list is Isiah Thomas, who stole the spotlight over everyone in this edition of the midseason classic. Thomas dazzled offensively against three members of the Showtime Lakers, putting up a game-best 30 points and trailing only Magic Johnson with 10 assists.
Thomas orchestrated nearly all the East's offense and propelled them to victory in one of the most heavily contested All-Star Game's in history.
4. Kobe Bryant — NBA All-Star 2011
Final Score: West 148, East 143
The science is out — players play better in the NBA All-Star Game when they're in front of a home crowd.
Kobe Bryant added proof to this claim in 2011 with a draw-dropping performance in front of his congregation at the Staples Center.
The Black Mamba put up an All-Star-career-high 37 points in the game, but most impressively he recorded 10 offensive boards in the win. For those counting at home, that's the most offensive rebounds ever recorded in NBA All-Star history and it was done by a guard.
Bryant's performance earned him his fourth career MVP honors in the game, tying him with Bob Pettit for the most all-time.
3. Wilt Chamberlain — NBA All-Star 1962
Final Score: West 150, East 130
There are few things sweeter in basketball than a Wilt Chamberlain statline.
It may be the enormous amount of points he scored, or the mythical number of boards he'd pull down, or even just the fact that he did it consistently throughout his career.
Chamberlain was no stranger to the All-Star Game — he was a 13-time selection — but no performance matched what he was able to do in 1962.
In a game where he matched up against the likes of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Bob Pettit and Oscar Robertson, Chamberlain did his best to single-handedly make the game competitive. His East side lost the game by 20 points, but Chamberlain kept it relatively close, putting up a whopping 42 points and 24 rebounds.
2. Magic Johnson — NBA All-Star 1992
Final Score: West 153, East 113
This was one of those rare moments in professional sports where it became more than a game.
Magic Johnson's statline is only half of the story at NBA All-Star 1992. Johnson played a game that became synonymous with his career — it wasn't close to a triple double, but Johnson was a factor at every level of the game.
But once again, we're not here to talk about his stats.
In November 1991, Johnson shocked the entire sporting world when he announced his retirement following the news that he contracted the HIV virus. Although he did not participate in the regular season, he was voted into the All-Star Game by fans in an overwhelming capacity. The league allowed Johnson to participate in the festivities in Orlando and it became one of the league's most memorable moments in the process.
Johnson's performance was fit for a storybook as he showed off the skills and generational talent of a player's career that was taken from him too soon. It culminated in a made three-pointer with 14 seconds remaining, leading to the bench's clearing (in a good way) as both sides came to embrace Johnson in the middle of the court.
Even with time remaining on the clock, the game was called to respect this truly rare moment of NBA All-Star history.
1. Michael Jordan — NBA All-Star 1988
Final Score: East 138, West 133
The last time NBA All-Star was in Chicago, something special happened.
In front of a hometown Bulls-favored crowd, "His Airness" put on the greatest show that we've ever seen in the midseason classic.
The day before this classic performance, Jordan was already on the public consciousness after a thrilling, classic duel with Dominique Wilkins in the Slam Dunk Contest in which Jordan reigned supreme.
Jordan's statline in the exhibition game was nothing short of ridiculous. Forty points are impressive enough on their own, but Jordan amassed that number on a lethal 17-for-23 shooting while also bringing in eight boards, four steals, four blocks and three assists. He was everywhere.
But most importantly? The game's greatest ever closer couldn't shake his natural killer instincts, even in an exhibition. Jordan scored 16 of his 40 points in the final six minutes of regulation, helping the East pull out the five-point win in front of his kingdom of fans.
Attend NBA All-Star 2020 in Chicago
The stars are aligning for another historic NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago from February 14-16. Be there for the first NBA All-Star Game in Chicago in over 30 years with an Official Ticket Package from NBA Premium.