When one thinks of professional all-star games and Milwaukee, one likely closes one’s eyes, begins to twitch, and flashes back to the disastrous Major League Baseball All-Star Game held at Miller Park in 2002. You know, the one that ended in a tie, the one that ended with the crowd calling for Bud Selig’s head, and the one where seemingly every sportswriter in the country took a big old sportswriter dump on Milwaukee. Twenty-five years earlier, however, there was another all-star game in Milwaukee that ended on a decidedly less awful note—though it wasn’t without its wrinkles.
On February 13, 1977, the Milwaukee Arena played host to the National Basketball Association’s 27th annual All-Star Game. The game was notable for several reasons:
• The NBA and the rival American Basketball Association had merged the previous August, making this the first All-Star Game to feature stars from both leagues.
• The game featured 14 future Hall of Famers, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, “Pistol Pete” Maravich, and Julius Erving. The latter was named the game’s MVP, though many felt the voting had taken place too soon and that the honor should have gone to Paul Westphal. Dr. J finished with 30 points to Westphal’s 20, though Westphal had two baskets and a key steal (from Maravich) in the closing minutes.
• A sellout crowd of 10,938 packed the Milwaukee Arena to watch the game. Nevertheless, it was the lowest-attended NBA All-Star Game since 1961. Typical Milwaukee!
• It was the first NBA All-Star game to be played in the early afternoon. All previous editions had been played at night. Huh.
• Rick Barry was rocking the underhand free throw.
The game was a doozy, with the Western Conference beating the Eastern Conference 125-124. To this day, it’s remembered as one of the better All-Star games in NBA history. See for yourself: