The NBA has seen most – if not all – of the greatest talent to have ever come through the league compete amongst one another in their annual All-Star Game, but it takes true talent and ability for those players to make it as an All-Star more than once. With these 10 men, making it to the All-Star Game has happened so often that making the trip every year almost comes naturally.
Several of the players toward the bottom of this list are those who have been in the league for less than 10 years, while those toward the top are tried-and-true veterans and among the NBA’s elite, and – at least in the case of some – candidates for the Basketball Hall of Fame. Some of these players have justified their selection to the game by winning honours attached to it: from All-Star MVP Awards to victories in contests such as the Three-Point Shootout. These may seem insignificant in comparison to championships or even NBA MVP Awards, but the All-Star Game is a fun event in which we get to see the best of the best compete against one another. Needless to say, it takes plenty for one to come out on top in that situation.
Some of the players toward the top of the list are deep in the twilight of their respective careers, and although they are the most All-Star Game-experienced players still active in the league, players such as Dwight Howard – who ranks tenth here – will be looking to top those records handsomely by the time their careers are over. These 10 men have truly made it as an elite baller at some point or another in their career, and their consistent selection to the All-Star Game is proof of that. Let’s take a look.
Rockets power forward Dwight Howard is actually tied with Steve Nash and Vince Carter for 10th place on this list with eight All-Star appearances each, but gets the edge over the latter two for being at the All-Star Game the most recently. Following a fairly disappointing one season stint with the Lakers, after a three-way trade sent him to the Staples Center from Orlando, Howard is now racking up big points and rebounds with the Houston Rockets. The $20.5 million-making Howard has appeared in every All-Star Game from 2007 onward, racking up 11 rebounds for the Western Conference team in the game earlier this season.
He’s now playing a remarkably smaller role than he’s used to with the Heat, but once upon a time Ray Allen was among the best shooting guards in the NBA. Extremely adept at free throws and shooting for three points, Allen has made it to 10 All-Star Games – two of which were for injury replacements – in the past: the first in 2000 and the last one in 2011, winning the Three-Point Shootout twice and with commentators arguing he should have won the All-Star game MVP Award in 2008 over eventual teammate LeBron James. But at age 38, Allen is clearly well into the twilight of his career, making $3.2 million this year.
For someone who has won a league championship three times and been an integral figure of each of those title-winning teams, it’s really no wonder that Dwyane Wade has made an appearance in each of the last 10 All-Star Games. Getting the game-winning shot for the Eastern Conference in the 2006 game, as well as being named the All-Star Game MVP in 2010 with 28 points and 11 assists only serve to emphasize his billing as one of the best players in the league. Wade is making $18.7 million this year, with a contract running through 2016.
Whether you love him or hate him, to call LeBron James anything short of elite in terms of his playing ability would be absolutely kidding yourself. James – who makes $19 million this season – has been named an NBA All-Star every year for the past 10 years, and his two NBA rings have effectively silenced critics – at least, to an extent. As for his All-Star Game accomplishments, James has the distinction of being the youngest player in league history to win the All-Star Game MVP Award aged just 21, as well as winning a second in the 2008 game.
German power forward Dirk Nowitzki has sealed his reputation as one of the best of his position to play the game, and his record as a 12-time NBA All-Star only emphasizes that. The Dallas Maverick first made it to the game in 2002 and has only not been selected for one since (2013), winning the Three-Point Shootout in 2006. At 35, Nowitzki may be headed for retirement in a few years’ time, but you couldn’t really tell by his play this season: he’s been averaging 21.7 points and six rebounds per game, and is by far Dallas’ highest-paid player, making $22.7 million this season.
Although he’s yet another player on this list whose career is winding down, being in his late 30s, Spurs power forward/captain Tim Duncan is a four-time NBA champion; something very few players in the league today could place on their resume. The U.S. Virgin Islands-bred Duncan is making $10.4 million this season, and the former 1997 first overall draft pick has made it to the All-Star Game a whopping 14 times. The first time came in 1998, and Duncan followed it up by co-winning the All-Star Game MVP Award with Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. He most recently appeared in the All-Star Game in 2013.
His best before date may have come a while ago, but Kevin Garnett’s got nothing to really worry about: he’s won a championship in 2008 with the Boston Celtics, and he’s been an All-Star 15 times. His $12 million salary this season is far from being elite-level, but his record speaks for itself: he’s tied for the second-highest number of selections to the game of all time, having won the All-Star Game MVP Award in 2003. Although anything is possible (see what we did there?), it looks as if Garnett’s days as one of the elite power forwards in the league are behind him, as he’s currently going through a weak season in Brooklyn.
Unlike many of the players behind him on this list, Kobe Bryant hasn’t quite lost his ability to play at the absolute highest level, despite suffering from a serious knee injury that has limited him to six games this whole season. With a salary of $30.4 million, Kobe is still the Lakers’ highest-paid player by far, and his record at the NBA All-Star Game is simply remarkable: he’s made it to the game 16 times, and has won the All-Star MVP Award four times, tied for the most in NBA history. He may be hampered by injuries as of late, but don’t count Kobe out of making it back to the All-Star Game at least once or twice more before he retires.