ARLINGTON, Texas - The largest crowd to watch a basketball game saw an all too familiar sight.
Dwyane Wade did it again in North Texas.
Wade had 28 points and won MVP honors as the Eastern Conference edged the Western Conference, 141-139, last night in the NBA All-Star Game.
The crowd of 108,713 at Cowboys Stadium watched Dallas native Chris Bosh make the winning free throws with 5.0 seconds left. The West had a chance to win it, but Carmelo Anthony's three-point attempt came up short.
The largest cheer of the night came earlier, when Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones came onto the court to announce the record crowd, which also was the largest in the $1.2-billion building's short history.
They were booing at the end when Wade made two free throws with 12.7 seconds left. Dirk Nowitzki of the hometown Mavericks tied it with two of his own five seconds later before Bosh put the East on top for the final time.
Wade, the MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals when Miami won the title in Dallas, shot 12-for-16 and added 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals. LeBron James had 25 points and Bosh finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Said Wade, "I've had a little luck in Dallas. Of course, 2006 is very, very memorable, something I dreamed of doing for a long time, winning the NBA championship, and I was lucky enough and blessed enough to win the MVP there. To come and do it again is special."
Anthony scored 27 and Nowitzki - who Kobe Bryant had predicted would win MVP honors - had 22.
"It was unbelievable,'' Nowitzki said. "Usually in All-Star Games, not everybody is going out to shoot and warm up, but if you looked an hour before the game, I think both teams, almost all players were out there shooting, because it's so different in a huge dome with the background. And I thought for actually the size of this arena, both teams were shooting pretty well."
The star in this one, though, was the building. The NBA brought its midseason showcase to a football stadium, and the arrangement worked perfectly. The league was predicting about 90,000 but ended up blowing past Jones' and Cuban's hopes to reach 100,000.
It easily shattered the previous record for the largest crowd to watch a basketball game of 78,129, set for a college matchup between Kentucky and Michigan State at Detroit's Ford Field on Dec. 13, 2003.
"To be in front of 108,000 fans . . . that was actually what it was. That was not a false number. You could look up in the stands, and there was not a seat open," James said. "To be part of history is something that you always wish and dream for."
"When you first got here, it was like no way this is going to fill up," Dwight Howard said. "Go to the locker room [after pregame warmups] and come back out, there's no more seats. It's amazing."
There's probably never been a better time to be on the sideline. The seats on the benches were leather theater seats with armrests and drink holders. James seemed to particularly enjoy his, reclining his back and putting his feet up on the court above him while resting to start the second quarter. "We didn't want to get up," Howard said. "They were so comfortable."
Naturally, there was a football element. Cowboys cheerleaders were lined up as the players came onto the court for pregame warmups, and former Dallas receiver Terrell Owens was in the crowd.