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All-Star 1988: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan shine in Chicago

Watch All-Star Saturday Night, live on Sky Sports Arena in the early hours of Sunday morning (1am)

Sky Sports NBA/Shaun Powell, nba.com

Saturday 15 February 2020 21:37, UK

Larry Bird and Michael Jordan prepare to compete in the All-Star 3-Point Contest
Image: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan prepare to compete in the All-Star 3-Point Contest

Relive the action as NBA legends Michael Jordan and Larry Bird took centre stage on Saturday Night at the 1988 All-Star Weekend in Chicago.

All-Star Weekend live on Sky Sports

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Everything you need to know about the All-Star Game, Slam Dunk and 3-Point Contests and Rising Stars game

The All-Star 2020 festivities are underway in the Windy City. It is the first time the showpiece NBA event has been held in Chicago since 1988.

As the modern-day dunkers, shooters and ball-handlers prepare for the Dunk Contest, 3-Point Contest and Skills Challenge that comprise All-Star Saturday Night 2020, live on Sky Sports Arena in the early hours of Sunday morning, what better time to rewind 32 years when two of the NBA's most iconic players, Jordan and Bird, produced career-defining All-Star moments?

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Jordan outduels Wilkins to retain Slam Dunk title

Michael Jordan takes flight at the 1988 All-Star Dunk Contest in Chicago 3:39
Relive every spectacular slam as Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins duel at 1988 Slam Dunk Contest in Chicago

Michael Jordan's duel with Atlanta Hawks' high-flyer Dominique Wilkins is arguably the greatest Dunk Contest in All-Star history. It was the only time the game's acknowledged two greatest dunkers appeared against one another in an exhibition contest. And the outcome is debated to this day.

Wilkins, known as the 'Human Highlight Reel', led going into the final round before Jordan, on his home court, completed his trio of slams with his iconic free-throw line dunk that scored a perfect 50 and earned 'His Airness' a second straight Dunk Contest triumph.

Michael Jordan throws down a monster jam in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest
Image: Michael Jordan throws down a monster jam in the 1988 Slam Dunk Contest

Three decades later Wilkins recalls: "I think it was the greatest Dunk Contest ever because you had two great players competing. I wanted to know who the best was. The energy in that place on that night was unbelievable.

"It was a great rivalry. 'MJ' and I have a great deal of respect for another. But my plan was to win. 'MJ' was coming to win too so I had to bring my A-game. I came with an A-plus game but it still didn't work!

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"I thought I won. He thought he won. The fans thought he won more than I did," says Wilkins. "But we both put on an amazing show and I was not disappointed. It was a close contest and it could have gone either way. The fans got their money's worth. It was the best of all time. It was a flat-out show."

Bird completes hat-trick of 3-Point Contest wins

Larry Bird lets fly in the 1988 All-Star 3-Point Contest 7:04
Relive the action from the 1988 All-Star Weekend as Larry Bird completed a hat-trick of victories in the 3-Point Contest

The 1988 3-Point Contest produced its own iconic moment as Larry Bird, the two-time defending champion, walked off the court signalling victory when his last shot was still in the air. Bird being Bird, it went in.

The Boston Celtics' superstar proved his mastery of the event for a third successive All-Star Weekend.

Two years earlier at the inaugural 3-Point Contest, he entered the room where the other contestants gathered and famously announced: "Which one of you is finishing second?" Bird then made 11 straight shots at one point to back up his talk.

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In 1988, Bird was so sure about his chances that he refused to remove his warm-up top the entire contest while he shot.

Bird trailed Dale Ellis by eight points in the final round with only two racks of balls left. As Ellis watched from a few feet away, his expression turning grimmer by the second as Bird came through in the clutch. He swished all five balls from his next-to-last rack. He needed to make the final ball on the final rack to win.

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With the clock running and the crowd standing and Ellis dreading what was coming next, Bird aimed from the deep corner and released. While the ball was just starting its descent toward the hoop, Bird shot a finger in the air to signify who was No 1, trash-talking without saying a word.

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