Dave Allred doesn’t come right out and call it Camelot. But the former Jazz public relations director does look back on the first time the Utah Jazz hosted an NBA All-Star Game with a kind of glow.

“It was probably the biggest event to come to Salt Lake at that time. The Olympics hadn’t been awarded yet. We felt like we were the show and had the opportunity to expose Salt Lake City and the state to a worldwide audience.” — former Utah Jazz public relations director Dave Allred

“It was everything we wanted it to be,” he says, “I can’t think of anything that was a glitch. Other than the two times we went to the finals (1997 and 1998) it was the highlight of my time with the Jazz.”

Allred was in his 12th year with the franchise when the NBA brought the All-Star Game to Salt Lake. He’d been with the team almost from the start of its Utah run, joining the front office a year after the team arrived in Utah from New Orleans, down and out and hemorrhaging money, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.

He’d just finished his schooling at the University of Utah and on a whim went to the Jazz offices at the Salt Palace to see if he could intern with them.

“They asked how much they’d have to pay me,” he remembers. “I said I’d work for free. They said, ‘You’re hired.’”

He watched from the inside as the Jazz began their steady climb to solvency and respectability, finding new ownership in Larry H. Miller and building a new arena, the Delta Center — all of it factoring into the NBA awarding Utah the 1993 All-Star Game.

“It was probably the biggest event to come to Salt Lake at that time,” Allred says. “The Olympics hadn’t been awarded yet. We felt like we were the show and had the opportunity to expose Salt Lake City and the state to a worldwide audience.”

Utah Jazz director of public relations Dave Allred and Christie Jackson with NIE during Jazz game against Dallas on April 8, 2002. Being part of the 1993 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City was a highlight of Allred’s career. | Michael Brandy, Deseret News

Behind the scenes, they were as nervous as an undrafted rookie on opening night.

Says Allred, “There was always a little bit of an inferiority complex back then. We felt we had to overachieve because of the size of the market and the long-term history of the franchise. That was the mentality of the entire organization.”

The Jazz weren’t the only ones worried.

“I think the league was afraid there wouldn’t be enough to do in Salt Lake,” says Allred. “I think that was what was behind adding more ancillary events.”

The ’93 All-Star Weekend saw the introduction of the NBA Jam Session, the celebrity game (with mostly local celebrities) and other interactive fan events that have become a staple ever since.

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It was also the year that killed the Legends Game, a regular event since 1984 but also a perfect storm for injuring players whose minds thought their bodies could still do what they once did.

But Utah fans did get to see former Utah Stars stars Zelmo Beaty and Ron Boone, as well as Jazz announcer “Hot” Rod Hundley, who suited up at age 58. “So that was great for us,” says Allred.

NBA legends, by the way, will be in Salt Lake for this year’s game, but not to play basketball. The stars of yesteryear are part of the Lunch With a Legend ticket package: $999 for lunch with an all-time great and a ticket to the game.

There’s also the Swingman package: a ticket to the game plus two days skiing and lodging in Park City for $6,399.

So, yeah, the weekend has evolved, as has the host city. The population of the metro area has grown from 820,000 to 1.2 million in 30 years. There’s more to do.

It didn’t hurt that the 1993 game showcased one of the greatest collections of basketball talent ever assembled on the same 94-foot floor. Nine of the All-Stars played on the Dream Team that had won Olympic gold just six months earlier in Barcelona. Eleven of them were named to the 50 greatest NBA players list revealed three years later. Sixteen of the 24 wound up in the Hall of Fame.

None of the future Hall of Famers needed more than one name: Jordan, Barkley, Pippen, Shaq, Ewing, Drexler, the Admiral (David Robinson), Olajuwon, Isiah, Mullin, Dumars, Hardaway, Dominique, Richmond and, of course, Stockton and Malone.

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Unlike runaway dunk fests that would come later, the ’93 game was fairly competitive. And after the West and East tied in regulation at 119, it got very competitive.

Led by Stockton’s five points, the West took control in overtime, winning 135-132. After that, 11 selected media members went to work deciding an MVP.

Had the East won, the feeling was the vote would have gone to Michael Jordan, the reigning league MVP who led all scorers with 30 points in addition to five assists and four steals.

But the West won, and when the MVP votes were tallied there were three cast for other players and four each for Stockton, who had a game-high 15 assists and nine points, and Malone, with 28 points and 10 rebounds.

The Jazz stars playing on the Jazz court in the home of the Jazz were named co-MVPs, the first time that happened since Elgin Baylor and Bob Pettit shared the award in 1959.

For a brief shining moment, Utah was the center of the basketball universe.

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In typical Stockton and Malone style, neither one wanted to command the stage for very long.

“John’s first move was to get away and be with his family,” remembers Allred of the always reclusive Stockton. “Karl had a little more interest in the media, but not a lot. They weren’t clamoring for more interviews, I can tell you. John and Karl did what was required of them and then they were gone.”

Allred’s — and the Jazz’s — time in the spotlight was done.

Pretty much a perfect ending to a glitchless day.

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