NBA All-Star Game: Looking Back At 1998, The Last One In New York City

2 of 6

Feb 14, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; A general view of the Rising Stars logo during the 2014 Rising Stars Challenge at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

-Rookie Challenge

Back in 1998 the game was still called the Rookie Challenge. Nowadays the game has expanded, as sophomores are included. This season the game will feature a new twist, as it will place first and second year players from the United States against a team of first and second year players from the rest of the world. An interesting concept, but nothing beats the good old days of rookies vs. rookies separated by conference.

In 1998 that is exactly what we got, as rookies of the Eastern Conference led by Willis Reed were pitted against rookies of the Western Conference, led by Dave DeBusschere. The Eastern Conference would win the game 85-80, giving them three straight victories over the Western Conference. Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas would take home MVP honors, the first time an international player took home the honors.

Looking at the rosters, and based on what we know now about the players that took part, the Western Conference is lucky they didn’t have the doors blown off them. The Eastern Conference featured Ilgauskas along with Chauncey Billups, Tracy McGrady, Keith Van Horn, Tim Thomas to name a few. There aren’t many recognizable names on the Western Conference, as Bobby Jackson and Antonio Daniels lead the way scoring wise.

Unlike in recent seasons, players didn’t participate in multiple events, like we saw Damian Lillard do last season as he appeared in every All-Star Weekend event. If that was the case in 1998, the Western Conference probably would have won easily because they would have had a guy by the name of Tim Duncan on their squad. He didn’t participate because he was too busy playing in the actual game Sunday night.