Is there an ideal age for the NBA All-Star Game? -

The NBA All-Star Game is a gathering of the best basketball players in the world. Age, size and nationality are irrelevant on the game's biggest stage—if you're one of the best 24 players in the world, you'll likely find a place amid the celebrities, hype and festivities of All-Star Weekend.

We dug into the record books to find out a little more about the extremes of past NBA All Stars. For instance, you might know that former Rockets center Yao Ming is the tallest NBA All Star ever (7-foot-6), while former Houston guard Calvin Murphy is the shortest to ever play the game (5-foot-9). Of course, there are always going to be extremes in height in a game that has a place for towering centers and pesky point guards and all sizes in between.

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But what about age? Lakers Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the oldest All Star at age 41, while fellow Laker legend Kobe Bryant was the game's youngest player at age 19.

Is there an ideal age for an NBA All Star? How about a typical age? We mined some data, looking at the rosters of the past 20 years worth of NBA All-Star games, and the results—while not necessarily surprising—certainly illustrate the makeup of the NBA All Star rosters.

The average age of an NBA All Star from 1993 to 2012 is 27.5 years old. This year's game is essentially a perfect example of that statistic – the average age of the East roster is 27.5, while the West checks in at 27.3. The oldest player this year is Steve Nash (38 when the season started), while the youngest is Blake Griffin (22). There are five 27-year-olds (Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams and Marc Gasol) and one 28-year-old (Andre Iguodala) who straddle the average-age line.

The average age has remained relatively consistent. Going into this exercise, we thought perhaps the mid-90s teams—featuring the aging but still formidable members of the original Dream Team—might skew older, while the surge of players skipping college and going straight to the NBA in the late 90s would push the average age lower.

And on the surface, that appears to be the case. The oldest roster (29.5, 1996 West) featured Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton, each of whom was at least 32 years old. Meanwhile, the youngest All-Star team (25.4, 2002 West) included Bryant and Kevin Garnett, who were already veterans but not yet 26 years old.

However, the NBA has done such a remarkable job of replenishing its talent pool that even through the retirement of that wave of elder statesmen, the average age of an All-Star roster never deviated more than two years from the 20-year norm.

Even the MVPs follow the age trend. The oldest MVP in that span was 34-year-old Michael Jordan in 1998, and the youngest was 21-year-old LeBron James in 2006, but all told, the average age of the All-Star MVP in the past 20 years is 28.1 years old.

In the end, age isn't a reliable predictor of success in the All-Star game. In the 18 games since 1993, the older team has won nine and the younger team has won nine. The East is 4-4 when it has the older roster, while the West is 5-5 when it has the older collection of players.

Thus, when it comes to the NBA All-Star game, the old saying is true: age is just a number.

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24 Feb, 2012

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