Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record for most All-Star Games played without winning the All-Star Game MVP (18), while Adrian Smith earned the MVP in his lone All-Star Game. Karl Malone and James Worthy also won the award as rookies in 1977 and 1973, respectively.
In fact, only four players have won the All-Star Game MVP while not being selected as an All-Star starter. The last player to do so was Blake Griffin in 2014.
The best player never to win an All-Star Game MVP is Michael Jordan. He was invited to five All-Star Games but never took home the trophy.
Latrell Sprewell is the only player who has won an All-Star Game MVP while not making the Eastern or Western Conference teams. He did so in 1997 when the West defeated the East 133-130. Manu Ginobili has been selected as an All-Star Game MVP three times but was unable to play due to injury each time. He still received the award anyway. Jason Kidd has been selected as an All-Star Game MVP twice but was unable to play due to injury one time.
There have been many great players over the years who were shut out of the All-Star Game selection process.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar holds the record for the most All-Star Game selections as well as the most All-Star Game appearances. He was chosen 19 times and participated in 18 All-Star games. The only year he did not make an appearance was in 1976 when he suffered a knee injury that required surgery and forced him to miss the entire season.
Abdul-Jabbar is one of four people who have been selected for the All-Star Game in each of the first five seasons it was held. The others are Walt Frazier, Bill Russell, and Shaquille O'Neal.
He won the All-Star Game MVP Award in 1975 when he played against the American League team and took home the trophy that year. The AL beat the National League 3-1 that day at Madison Square Garden.
In addition to his work with the Milwaukee Bucks, Abdul-Jabbar had two stints with the Los Angeles Lakers - from 1986-1990 and again in 1996. During his second time with the Lakers, he helped them win their third championship in 2000. He retired after that season but came out of retirement in 2001 when he signed with the New York Knicks.
Who has received the most All-Star Game MVP honors? Both Bob Pettit (1956, 1958, 1959, 1962) and Kobe Bryant (2002, 2007, 2009, 2011) have four NBA All-Star Game MVPs. The only other player to win four MVP awards is Bill Russell with five.
Kobe has won more than any other player in All-Star Game history. He also leads all players with six MVP awards from the Western Conference.
Kobe has been selected as an All-Star Game MVP three times. He was a starter each year of his first two seasons before being replaced by Shaquille O'Neal in 2002. He returned in 2007 and 2008 before not returning this season due to injury.
Kobe has led the West in scoring each year he's played in the All-Star Game except for 2005 when Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets led all scorers with 38 points. That year, the East defeated the West 125-112.
Kobe has always ranked among the top three scorers in the All-Star Game. He has never finished outside the top 10 since it became a best-of-three series in 2003. In that year's game, Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls led all scorers with 37 points but didn't receive any votes from the coaches or media for MVP.
In the 1975-76 season, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the only player to win the MVP award despite his team failing to make the playoffs. That season, the Lakers went 40-42 (.448). The next year, they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Knicks.
Abdul-Jabbar's award winning season came after he had already won the NBA title with the Los Angeles Lakers the previous year. It is possible that he was awarded MVP for bringing attention to the league through his dominance on the court, but it also could have been because of his influence behind the scenes with Team USA or his role with UCLA during the off-season. Either way, it is a rare occurrence.
Here are other players who have won MVP and failed to bring a championship to their team: Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and LeBron James.
Abdul-Jabbar is the only player to win MVP and miss the playoffs twice. He was able to lead his team to the title the following year, so this failure to make the postseason happened before he achieved all-time greatness.
Players need to be part of a playoff team to win MVP. This is why people call it "team MVP".