Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Big Five & The NBA All Star Game

When Jameer Nelson was named an NBA All Star this year, he became just the second former Big Five star to become one since Guy Rodgers in 1967; Temple’s Eddie Jones made teams in 1997, ’98, and 2000. Which raises a question—all the great Big Five players and nationally ranked teams since 1967 and just two NBA All Stars?

That’s just the start of the surprises surrounding former Big Five stars and the NBA’s midseason showcase game. You could win bets all year long with a few of the questions surrounding the Big Five and the All Star game.

A few examples: How many Big Five players went on to become NBA All Stars? (Here's a clue: fewer than 10.) Or, who were the only two former Big Five players to make more than five NBA All Star teams? (That question is an all-time stumper.) How about, which Big Five school has the most? Which has none? And how many of the former Big Five players to make the NBA All Star team could you name?

One thing is clear; the glory years of Philly hoops and the NBA All Star game were the 1950s and ‘60s. At least one former Big Fiver made an NBA All Star game every year from 1951 to 1967, except for 1965. In the 42 years since, the game has featured a Big Fiver just four times.

So who were the seven Big Fivers—that’s right, just seven—to be named NBA All Stars? With thanks to, they were:

La Salle:
Larry Foust: ‘51, ‘52, ‘53, ‘54, ‘55, ‘56, ‘58, ‘59
Jack George: ‘56, ‘57
Tom Gola: ‘60, ‘61, ‘62, ‘63, ‘64

Guy Rodgers: ‘63, ‘64, ‘66, ‘67
Eddie Jones: ‘97, ‘98, 2000

St. Joseph’s: Jameer Nelson: 2009

Villanova: Paul Arizin: ‘51, ‘52, ‘55, ‘56, ‘57, ‘58, ‘59, ‘60, ‘61, ‘62

Penn: None

Anyone could have guessed Arizin was one of the two former Big Fivers with more than five NBA All Star appearances. After all, he was named one of the NBA’s all-time top 50 players. But La Salle’s Larry Foust? Unless you were born in the 1940s or earlier, it’s highly unlikely you’ve ever even heard of one of the Big Five’s most successful NBA stars.

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