Let’s just get this out of the way: there has never been an all-star team that featured five players from one single team, but there have been several times when four players from one team were represented in the mid-season showcase.
Here are the eight times that it has happened in NBA All-Star history. This list features the teams with the most players in an all-star game. Players are listed in this priority: alphabetically, starters (*), reserves, and injury replacements (+).
|Year||Team||Players||Player 1||Player 2||Player 3||Player 4|
|2017||GSW||4||Stephen Curry*||Kevin Durant*||Draymond Green||Klay Thompson|
|2015||ATL||4||Al Horford||Paul Millsap||Jeff Teague||Kyle Korver+|
|2011||BOS||4||Ray Allen||Kevin Garnett||Paul Pierce||Rajon Rondo|
|2006||DET||4||Chauncey Billups||Richard Hamilton||Ben Wallace||Rasheed Wallace|
|1998||LAL||4||Kobe Bryant*||Shaquille O’Neal*||Eddie Jones||Nick Van Exel|
|1983||PHL||4||Maurice Cheeks*||Julius Erving*||Moses Malone*||Andrew Toney|
|1975||BOS||4||John Havlicek*||Dave Cowens||Jo Jo White||Paul Silas|
|1962||BOS||4||Tom Heinsohn*||Bob Cousy*||Bill Russell||Sam Jones+|
If we’re being technical about it, we wouldn’t count the years where replacements gave a team four players. If we’re being sticklers and purists, then it’s happened just six times and not eight. The two times when replacements were needed for the team to have four players were in 1962 when the Boston Celtics’ Sam Jones replaced Larry Costello of Syracuse; joining Heinsohn, Cousy and Russell.
Most recently in 2015, the Atlanta Hawks had four players only after Kyle Korver was chosen to replace an injured Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. The injury to Wade gave Korver the opportunity to join his Atalanta Hawks teammates Horford, Millsap, and Teague. Even though the Hawks now had four players, you didn’t hear much complaining. We’ll talk a little more about why in a bit.
What if a replacement player came from the same team of the injured player? Technically, it’s four players selected, but only three dressed for the game. Well, that happened in 1962 for the Los Angeles Lakers when Rudy LaRusso replaced an injured Elgin Baylor — both players played for the Lakers.
|Year||Team||Player 1||Player 2||Player 3||Player 4|
|1962||LAL||Elgin Baylor*||Jerry West*||Frank Selvy||Rudy LaRusso+|
Nah. That doesn’t count, but it’s worth mentioning.
The most impressive all-star teams with four players from one team
I’m most impressed by the times that four players came from one team were when all four were voted in as reserves by the coaches and media. This scenario happened twice with the 2011 Boston Celtics and 2006 Detroit Pistons all having four all-stars with not one as a starter. There’s just so much more merit than fan voting — which was the only reason the 1998 Los Angeles Lakers had four all-stars when Kobe Bryant was voted onto the team (he averaged 15 points off the bench). Editor Note: In hindsight, that 1998 Western Conference roster was killer.
I’m surprised not to see any of the Showtime Lakers or the 80’s Boston Celtics on this list. Both teams had three perennial all-stars throughout the 1980s; the Lakers had Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, while the Celtics boasted Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Danny Ainge would make the team in 1988, but Parish would not. Then in 1990, A.C. Green was voted in, but Kareem had retired the year before.
Instead it was the Celtics of 2010-11 that had four players in KG, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Rondo.
This might be the Detroit fan in me, but that Pistons teams in the late 80s could have had four all-stars with Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer. Of course there would be no way, The Bad Boys were just hated way too much. And instead, another Detroit team that was revered for their team play had four players 15 years later. More on that team in a bit.
It’s More About the Team Than the Individual
It’s counter-intuitive to think that the All-Star Game can be more about the team than the all-stars themselves. The fact that the four-players-from-one-team phenomenon rarely happens confirms that. When it does, you know a team is highly-respected around the league.
They have four players even despite having guaranteed representation at the game. These respected teams are locks to have at least two of their superstars in the game. Even then, coaches consciously choose to vote in another two players from that same team to be reserves, and at the detriment of players on lesser teams with better numbers.
The 2014-15 Atlanta Hawks and 2006 Detroit Pistons were the best examples of this. The Hawks had the best record in the NBA, playing a style of team basketball rarely seen in the NBA but none of the players had eye-popping numbers. All four contributed to their overall (plus Demarre Carroll)
The 2005-06 Pistons technically could have had all five starters from their team in the All-Star Game, and Doc Rivers campaigned for it. The snubs in the East that year were Michael Redd (25.4 ppg) and Gilbert Arenas (29.3 ppg), so the addition of Tayshaun Prince (14.4 points) would have been a great statement for team basketball, but at the cost of Chris Bosh, Vince Carter or Paul Pierce.
It doesn’t happen often but when it does, any argument against an All-Star game featuring four players from the same team is usually trumped by not only the team’s winning, but how they were winning. We’ll end this piece with Joe Dumars’ (the Pistons president of basketball operations) statement to the press after four of his Pistons were chosen to play in the All-Star Game:
“I would just like to thank the coaches in the league for recognizing our players,” said Dumars “What the coaches are saying by voting our guys on is that they appreciate unselfishness, great attitudes and team basketball.”