The NBA All-Star Game is one of the most prestigious events in the sport.
Not everyone is a fan of the product itself, despite some recent innovations such as the ‘ELAM’ ending and having captains pick their teams. However, everyone and their mama cares about who actually gets chosen to be on those teams. Those accolades pile up and eventually help make a player’s Hall of Fame case, or at least help out someone’s ‘who’s better?’ argument in the future.
To be chosen for an All-Star team means you are one of the best players in the league for that season, so it’s certainly a great honor. Today’s NBA has much more talent than the handful of players selected for the spectacle. But once upon a time, not everyone who made it was a world-beater. NBA history has seen a couple of players who are clearly not deserving of making the roster somehow squeak through.
Here are the five worst players to ever make an NBA All-Star appearance:
5. Tyrone Hill, 1995
Don’t get me wrong: Tyrone Hill was a solid role player throughout his career, but the fact that he actually made an All-Star team is definitely an eye opener.
To be fair, Hill averaged a double double with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1995, posting 13.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, but let’s be honest: no one was going to confuse Hill for one of the best players in basketball at any point of his time in the league.
As a matter of fact, Hill averaged double figures in scoring just five times during his 14-year NBA tenure.
Outside of rebounding and his staple of garbage buckets and putbacks, Hill did not have much offensive skill. He was a good defender and a guy you would love to have on your team, no doubt, but there are a lot of players like that in the league, and most of them don’t play in an All-Star Game.
4. James Donaldson, 1988
The immediate qualifier when it comes to James Donaldson’s All-Star appearance in 1988 was that he was an injury replacement, but that doesn’t make it any more head-scratching.
The Dallas Mavericks big man averaged seven points and 9.3 rebounds per game that season, which are decent numbers for a center, but certainly not the types of numbers you would expect from an All-Star.
The funny thing is, Donaldson actually had a better year the season prior, when he recorded 10.8 points and 11.9 boards a night while shooting 58.6 percent from the floor and 81.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Again, Donaldson would not have made the team had it not been for injuries, but seeing his name among NBA All-Stars is definitely an odd sight, to say the least.
3. Jamaal Magloire, 2004
Because of recency, this is probably the one that comes to most people’s minds right away.
Jamaal Magloire once made the All-Star team as a member of the New Orleans Hornets, averaging 13.6 points and 10.3 boards a night in 2004 (much like Hill).
It should be noted that New Orleans was an Eastern Conference squad at the time, and if anyone remembers how basketball was in the East in 2004, well, it wasn’t good.
All of the top big men were out West: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Webber, etc.
As a result, Magloire kind of had to make the roster because the center position in the East was so thin. But my goodness. A guy with lifetime averages of 7.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game seriously landed an All-Star selection once.
2. B.J. Armstrong, 1994
What makes B.J. Armstrong worse than Hill and Magloire is the fact that he was voted in by the fans in 1994, which means that he started the game.
Let’s keep in mind that Armstrong, who was playing for the Chicago Bulls at the time, registered just 14.8 points and 3.9 assists per game that season.
So how did he get enough votes again?
Armstrong’s selection came during Michael Jordan’s first retirement, so perhaps Bulls fans were just trying to live vicariously through their point guard. I don’t know.
I will say that Armstrong was a fine player and an efficient scorer, as evidenced by the fact that he shot 47.7 percent from the floor and 42.5 percent from three-point range (on low volume) for his career.
But that doesn’t mean he had any business playing in an All-Star Game, regardless of how bummed Chicago was about MJ taking time off to play baseball.
1. Yao Ming, 2011
This is one of those examples of a guy who was a really great player, but had no business being in the All-Star Game for a specific season.
For Yao Ming, that season was 2011, when he played in just five games due to injury.
And you know what makes Yao’s selection that year even worse? He was voted in by the fans in spite having barely even set foot on the floor. Oh, and in the games that Yao did he play? He averaged 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Obviously, Yao got a whole lot of votes from China.
Yao’s selection nine years ago serves as a foundational point for a lot of people who feel that the voting for NBA All-Stars needs to be revamped.