There are a lot of players over the years who could reasonably qualify as All-Star snubs, who for one reason or another never made the cut. After all, there’s only so many roster spots available each year. Mike Conley, for instance, once again became a casualty of that reality this season, despite playing some of the best basketball of his career on the league-leading Jazz.
But that’s not what this list is about. Instead of litigating the merits of all those so-called snubs, we’re going to spotlight the players we would’ve most liked to see in an All-Star Game setting, purely for the entertainment value they brought to the game with their swagger and their showmanship.
There’s some overlap, to be sure. Some of these guys had a legitimate All-Star case at one point or another. Others, well, not so much. The irony is that the latter comprise some of the more exciting what-if scenarios.
JCrossover has the dubious distinction of boasting the most career points by a player who never made an All-Star team. Crawford has also hinted that he has multiple never-before-seen moves he’s been saving for just such a setting. Alas, we’ll go to our graves wondering what he had left up his sleeve.
Fortunately for us, Crawford approached every contest like it was an All-Star game, bringing a joy and free-wheeling energy to the court that always ratcheted up the entertainment factor. Case in point: his legendary “Shake-n-Bake” move is one of the filthiest things we’ve ever seen attempted in the flow of an actual game. Just ask Kirk Hinrich.
It’s just one of many tools in an arsenal that has been stealing souls for the better part of two decades, and even if he never got the chance to put the whole repertoire on display at All-Star Weekend, his career highlight reel is a nice consolation prize.
God put Jason Williams on this Earth to play in an All-Star game. The fact that we never got to see him in action at the NBA’s annual event is a travesty. We did, however, get a brief glimpse of White Chocolate’s otherworldly magic during the Rookie Challenge game in 2000, when he pulled off an elbow-pass to Raef LaFrenz that we’re still marveling at to this day.
Still, that barely scratches the surface of what J-Will was capable of. His combination of ball-fakes, no-look passes, and crossover moves would’ve broken social media if he played in this era, and an All-Star game would’ve offered him exactly the setting he deserved to open up his whole bag of tricks.
Rafer “Skip to My Lou” Alston
Skip to My Lou was one of the few streetball legends to successfully make the transition into mainstream basketball. He even managed to carve out a nice little NBA career that spanned multiple teams and included a Finals appearance with the Orlando Magic in 2009.
Alston dialed down his streetball persona significantly in order to placate his coaches and prove he could thrive in an organized setting, but he could transform from Alston to Skip at the drop of a hat and take us back to the playground with a flurry of moves, like the ones he broke out against Sasha Vujacic one time for no particular reason other than because he could.
Like the other guys on this list, Alston obviously would’ve thrived in an All-Star game. He was a gifted entertainer who understood how to work the crowd, and he had a dazzling array of moves to back it up.
Both literal and spiritual godfather to Kyrie Irving, Rod Strickland isn’t a name that comes up very often anymore, unless Wu-Tang’s “Triumph” still figures as heavily into your rotation as it does ours. For those of us who remember, Strickland was the embodiment of New York City basketball, able to break down any defender you put in front of him and an O.G. Jelly Fam finisher around the rim.
Strickland is one of the guys on this list that had a legitimate All-Star claim, but he also deserves more recognition as one of the smoothest and most electrifying point guards of his generation.
It’s nearly impossible to know how to properly frame Sabonis’ career in way that does it justice. At 7’3, he was the prototypical unicorn of his era, a dead-eye long-range shooter with eyes in the back of his head who could run the floor and defend with the best of them. Basically, a more athletic Nikola Jokic.
Thanks to the Cold War, we were robbed of seeing him in action at the peak of his powers, and by the time he reached the NBA at age 32, injuries had taken their toll. Yet, even then, Sabonis became a folk hero during his time in Portland, dropping filthy no-look dimes to his teammates on a nightly basis and going toe-to-toe with some of the best centers of the era despite his age and diminished physical abilities.
What we wouldn’t give to have seen him in his prime against the league’s best. However, we suppose there is some poetic justice in his son Domantas carrying on the legacy and representing the family name in the All-Star game for the second straight year.