1977 NBA All-Star Game in Milwaukee: The Doctor was In
One of the more memorable NBA All-Star games ever played took place on February 13, 1977 at the old Milwaukee Arena (aka The MECCA). It was the first All-Star game following the merger between the NBA and the ABA. And since the ABA had no national television contract, the game was the platform for ABA legend Julius "Dr. J" Erving's introduction to a wider national audience.
Erving took full advantage of the opportunity, dominating the game, scoring 30 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, and demonstrating high-flying moves fans of the established NBA had rarely seen before. You can see for yourself. Or, for a better version, go here and scroll down to the 1977 All-Star game and click on "Top 10 highlights from the 1977 All-Star game". (Bucks fans from the 1980s will get a nostalgic feeling watching these clips. They feature the unmistakable high angle perspective we used to get watching televised Bucks home games in that era. I believe it was caused by the lack of room at the old Arena for court level cameras).
The Doctor in Bucks "Traveling Greens"The '77 game was one of the last ones to feature a cool All-Star tradition I wish they would have kept. Both teams at that time would wear All-Star variations of the host team's Home and Away uniforms. (Here and here and here are some examples). For the '77 game the Western Conference players wore the Bucks "Home Whites" and the Eastern Conference wore the "Traveling Greens" (the Bucks were in the Western Conference at the time). Thus the game provided Bucks fans with a vision of what might have been: Kareem and Dr. J together in Green and Red. (The Bucks drafted the Doctor in 1972, but instead of wearing Green and Red, Julius decided to play for the ABA's New York Nets and, before that, the Virginia Squires. The NBA championships we could have had, Antlerheads!).
Is the original feed lost?
A couple of years ago NBA.tv had an All-Star Game marathon, starting with the 1970 All-Star game. Unfortunately, for some aggrevating reason, the marathon skipped the '77 game. I was so pissed. Thus the highlight link above is the only footage of the game I've ever seen.
When's the next one, Mr. Commissioner?
What about another NBA All-Star weekend in Milwaukee? That would be cool (albeit a bit dangerous). I know the baseball All-Star game was fun when it was here... at least the surrounding festivities were (the game... not so much).
But when will we get another one? We've waited long enough. Since the last one played in Beer City -- 31 years ago last Wednesday -- no fewer than six NBA cities have hosted two All-Star games a piece -- Los Angeles, Washington, Cleveland, Houston, Denver... and Atlanta!
If Atlanta (home of the routinely half-filled Phillips Arena) has earned two games, we most certainly deserve at least one. Come on, Dave. Pony up and give MKE another round.