James Worthy shares NBA All-Star memories
After a while they all strung together.
Former Lakers forward James Worthy appeared in seven consecutive All-Star games from 1986 to 1992, and over time they served as nothing more than a relaxing weekend and an opportunity to hang out with the league's elite. Unsurprisingly, however, there are two games that remain fresh in his mind.
1986 NBA All-Star game
Worthy instantly gelled with the Lakers after they drafted him in 1982 from North Carolina as the No. 1 pick. His 13.4 points per game and 57.9% mark from the field earned him a spot on the 1983 All-Rookie team. He moved into the starting lineup the next season and developed a hefty reputation as one of the league's best baseline post players.
Worthy acknowledged that his first All-Star appearance as a starter in 1986 was "pretty cool" because he saw it as a validation of his career, after distinguishing himself in the shadows of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the Showtime Era and helping the Lakers win the 1985 title against the Boston Celtics in six games. Worthy scored 20 points on 10-of-19 shooting in 28 minutes in the West's 139-132 loss to the East. His point total was second only to Abdul-Jabbar for the West (21 points on nine-of-15 shooting and seven rebounds).
"I was a young kid on the block," Worthy said. "I was pretty excited. The first time there, you're a nervous wreck because you're around all the legends and all the other All-Stars. You take it a little too seriously. I treated it like a playoff game and was really involved."
1992 NBA All-Star game
This game, his last All-Star appearance, stood out to Worthy but for different reasons. Just before the season began, Johnson had announced his retirement because he had HIV, but he returned to the All-Star game because fans voted him in as a starter. Ranging from Johnson embracing Isiah Thomas at center court, having one-on-one showdowns with Thomas and Michael Jordan and finishing with the All-Star MVP award, Johnson's 25-point effort in the West's 153-113 victory over stirred up several emotions for Worthy.
"It was good for everybody," said Worthy, who scored nine points on four-of-seven shooting in 14 minutes off the bench. "We had been educated about everything he had gone through. Everybody was very wise about HIV/AIDS. It was a warm welcome. And Magic, he did his thing."
-- Mark Medina
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