Kevin Durant and Chris Paul shined as on the court the Western Conference topped the East 143-138, but it was retired superstar Michael Jordan, who remained largely out of sight and avoided the media, dominated NBA All-Star Weekend.
Jordan, who turned 50 on Sunday, was in Houston for the festivities and enjoyed a private birthday celebration.
Though the winner of six NBA championships was not scheduled to take part in any of the All-Star events, the disappointment at his absence was palpable in Houston’s Toyota Center.
Paul, with 20 points and 15 assists, was named MVP of the All-Star clash, while his Los Angeles Clippers teammate Blake Griffin scored 19.
Oklahoma City’s Durant led the Western Conference in scoring with 30 points.
While it was the West’s third win in a row and their fourth in five years, the Eastern Conference retains a 36-26 advantage in the series.
Gloria Reuben and John Legend, respectively, sang the Canadian and U.S. national anthems before tip-off and Alicia Keys provided the entertainment during the intermission as Beyonce, star of the Super Bowl halftime extravaganza, watched from court side.
David Stern, who plans to step down Feb. 1, 2014, presided over his last All-Star Weekend as NBA commissioner.
In his 29 years as the league’s top official, the 70-year-old Stern has transformed the NBA into a $4 billion a year international enterprise.