History, Heritage & Tradition

Zia Cooke (3) driving in the ball against Jaden Owens (13) at the 2019 McDonald's All American Girls Game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

McDonald's All American® Games Founding Story


For several decades, the McDonald's All American Games have elevated the best high school basketball players into the next generation of greats, where new aspirations are born and dreams are realized.

Before the McDonald’s All American Games came to be, Bob Geoghan founded the Capital Classic, played annually in Washington, D.C. The showcase pitted the best of the best in high school boys basketball from the D.C. region against those from around the country.


John Wooden (middle) and Bob Geoghan (right) posing with a guest at the 2005 McDonald’s All American Games in South Bend, Indiana; Photo by Brian Spurlock/McDonald’s

Pictured from left to right: Steve Schanwald (left), John Wooden (middle) and Bob Geoghan (right) posing at the 2005 McDonald’s All American Games in South Bend, Indiana; Photo by Brian Spurlock/McDonald’s

With his love for the basketball showcase and his desire to expand it, Geoghan took his big idea to Bob Beavers, regional Vice President in Baltimore at the time and first Black executive at McDonald’s. He thought a partnership with McDonald’s would be a great opportunity to broaden the scope of the game and give it longevity.

Elsewhere, Morgan Wootten also had ties to both basketball and McDonald’s. So much so that during his high school coaching career, he’d arrive at the McDonald’s halfway between his house and DeMatha Catholic High School every day at 11:50 to order lunch by noon. Following practice, he’d head back to McDonald’s with his empty cup, pull up to the drive-thru and say, “Just Coach Wootten getting a refill.”

Morgan Wootten, Howard Garfinkel, Sonny Hill, and Bob Geoghan commentating on the sidelines of the McDonald’s All American Games; Photo by Brian Spurlock/McDonald’s

Pictured from left to right: Morgan Wooten, John Wooden, Sonny Hill and Bob Geoghan

In 1977, Bob Geoghan went to Morgan Wootten and John Wooden to discuss taking a high school showcase to the next level, following his pitch to McDonald’s. This universal love for the Golden Arches coupled with a love for the game of basketball helped spark the creation of what we know affectionately today as the McDonald’s All American Games.

The McDonald’s All American Games is where hype becomes legacy.

The McDonald's All American Games features the game’s brightest stars from all over the country going head-to-head—East vs. West. The inaugural McDonald’s All American Games was the nation’s first high school basketball event of its kind and played in front of a crowd of 13,000 fans at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA.

But the Games are not just about basketball. Bob wanted to incorporate a charitable component into the Games experience. The trio loved the idea of players giving back to something “bigger than themselves” and born out of this desire was the relationship between McDonald’s All American Games and the Ronald McDonald House Charities, the non-profit organization that creates, finds, and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.

Forty-five years later, the McDonald’s All American Games is the pinnacle of high school basketball. Each year ushers a new group of young players into a club of legendary athletes, many of whom are known by a single name: Magic, Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Lebron, Candace, A’ja. The best of the best have donned a jersey featuring the iconic Golden Arches.

The McDonald’s All American court is where hype meets heritage. Where an 18-year-old shares a spot with the greatest players to ever touch a basketball. It’s a status no one can take away from them—they’ve earned this prestige.


Pictured from left to right: Morgan Wootten, Howard Garfinkel, Sonny Hill, and Bob Geoghan

McDonald's All American® Games Timeline


U.S. All-Star teammates Albert King and Magic Johnson posing with the winning trophy at the 1977 Capital Classic All-Star Game

1977 — Magic Johnson and Albert King are Named to the First McDonald's All American Team.

That year, both future NBA stars along with Gene Banks headline the first McDonald’s All American Team and participate in the Capital Classic in D.C.

The Spectrum arena in Philadelphia; Isiah Thomas posing for a picture at lunch during his visit at the 1979 McDonald’s All American Games

1978 — The Inaugural McDonald's All American Game Tips Off at The Spectrum in Philly.

Rudy Woods, the John R. Wooden Award winner, grabs 16 rebounds to put the West Team over the top in the inaugural McDonald's All American Game with a final score of 94-86.

Dominique Wilkins setting up for a dunk at the 1979 McDonald’s All American Games

1979 — Isiah Thomas Leads the East Team to an Overtime Victory in Charlotte.

The star-studded 1979 McDonald's All American Game features four future Hall of Famers, including Thomas and Dominique Wilkins.




Michael Jordan poses with basketball and with Morgan Wootten at the 1981 McDonald’s All American Games

1981 — Michael Jordan Scores 30 Points to Push the East Team to a One-Point Win in Wichita.

The MVP award goes to both the East’s Adrian Branch (24 points) and the West’s Aubrey Sherrod (19 points) despite Jordan's 30-point game.

1986 — The John R. Wooden MVP Goes to J.R. Reid Who Rallies the East Team Back from a 12-Point Deficit in Detroit.

More than 15,500 fans pack the Joe Louis Arena to catch this 104-101 game.

1987 — On the 10th Anniversary, the McDonald’s All American Game Celebrates by Heading Back to The Spectrum in Philly.

Game MVP, Mark Macon, scores 14 points for a 118-110 East Team victory.

Alonzo Mourning, John Wooden and Billy Owens pose with game placque, McDonald’s All American Games 1988

1988 — Co-MVPs, Alonzo Mourning and Billy Owens, Lead the East Team to Its Fourth Straight Victory.

Mourning scores 16 points with Owens adding 14 rebounds in this 105-99 victory at The Pit on the campus of the University of New Mexico.

Shaquille O'Neal (left and far right), Bobby Hurley and John Wooden presents game plaque, McDonald’s All American Games 1989, Co-MVP Shaquille O'Neal accepting the MVP award at the 1989 McDonald’s All American Games

1989 — Shaquille O'Neal Puts Up 18 Points and 16 Rebounds to Lead the West Team to Win.

Shaq’s night also includes six blocks to help end the East Team’s four-game winning streak.


Glenn Robinson (13) plays offense and Doug Edwards defends the hoop (31), McDonald’s All American Games 1991

1991 — The McDonald's All American Game Heads to a Sold-Out Crowd in Springfield, Mass. as Part of Basketball's Centennial Celebration.

Travis Best hits a game-tying three-pointer for the East Team with 22 seconds left on the clock in this thrilling 108-106 victory for the ages.

1991 Highlight Reel

1993 — Jacque Vaughn Unleashes a Record-Breaking 13 Assists in Memphis.

Vaughn goes on to earn co-MVP honors in a losing effort to the East Team by a score of 105-95.

Kevin Garnett (21) sets up for a dunk, Robert Traylor (54) and Ron Mercer (32) watch on, McDonald’s All American Games 1995

1995 — John R. Wooden MVP Kevin Garnett Steals the Show with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

More than a decade before becoming NBA teammates, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce dominate in front of a sold-out crowd, leading the West Team to a 125-115 victory in St. Louis.

1995 Highlight Reel

Shane Battier (55), Baron David (5), Chriss Burgess (44), Elton Brand (41), McDonald’s All American Games 1997

1997 — The Game Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary at the United Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The East Team handily takes the W with a 94-81 behind Elton Brand’s 16 points and nine rebounds.

Jonathan Bender (24) puts up a lay-up and Donnell Harvey (34) plays defense, McDonald’s All American Games 1999

1999 — Jonathan Bender Puts Up 31 points, Breaking Michael Jordan's 18-Year Record.

Bender scores 18 first-half points and finishes with a McDonald’s All American Game-record 31, securing the MVP that year. The West Team goes on to win the game by a final score of 141-128


Carmelo Anthony (22) setting up a dunk and Amare Stoudemire (32) in action at the McDonald’s All American Games 2002

2002 — The Historic Madison Square Garden Plays Host to the 25th Boys Game and Inaugural Girls Game.

The Girls Game is one for the record books as the West Team defeats the East Team 94-85 behind co-MVP Ann Strother and her 21 points.

The Boys Games is a high-scoring affair as the East Team overpowers the West Team by a final score of 138-107. MVP JJ Redick scores 26 points on five-of-six attempts from three.

2002 Highlight Reel

Lebron James, McDonald’s All American Games 2003, LeBron James playing offense against an opponent at the 2003 McDonald’s All American Games

2003 — LeBron James Leads the East Team to a Massive Victory in Cleveland.

James and the East Team take control of the game early and never let up. Charlie Villanueva scores 17 points while Chris Paul puts up a game-high 10 assists. For the West Team, Shannon Brown scores 23 points and Leon Powe grabs a game-high 12-rebounds.

The second annual Girls Game ends with the West dominating the East for the second straight year by a final score of 92-72. Game MVP Katie Geralds leads all scorers with 17 points, four assists and three rebounds for the West. The East Team fights back with sharpshooter Ivory Latta and Cori Chambers, who score 12 points each.

2003 Highlight Reel

Derrick Rose (25), Maya Moore (32) and Blake Griffin (15), McDonald’s All American Games 2007, Middle: Maya Moore going in for a layup at the 2007 McDonald’s All American Games.


In front of a crowd of nearly 12,000 fans at Freedom Hall, the 2007 McDonald's All American Games feature a stacked lineup of talent, including Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Kevin Love, Maya Moore, James Harden, Kyle Singler, Blake Griffin, Nolan Smith and O.J. Mayo!

Moore ties the record for most field goals made with eight and finishes the game with 18 points, three steals and two blocks. However, the star of the game is Jasmine Thomas, who ends her night with a great all-around performance, recording 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals. The East Team leads the game throughout, winning by a final score of 105-76.

In the Boys Game, Kansas State-bound forward and John R. Wooden MVP Michael Beasley rakes in 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting to lead the West Team to a narrow 114-112 victory.

McDonald’s All American High School Basketball Games 30 th Anniversary logo, Louisville, 2007, Freedom Hall

2007 — Freedom Hall Sets the Stage for Star-Studded Games in Louisville.


McDonald’s All American Games 2011 hosted at United Center arena

2011 — The Games Returns to a Sold-Out Crowd at the United Center in Chicago.

The McDonald's All American Games head back to Chicago for the first time since 1982, hosting a record-setting crowd of 20,018 at the United Center. John R. Wooden MVP James McAdoo leads the Boys East Team to a W with 17 points. In the Girls Game, the East’s Elizabeth Williams puts up a then-record 22 points in a 78-66 victory, easily earning MVP honors.

McDonald’s All American Games 2012, United Center; 35th Anniversary logo

2012 — The McDonald's All American Games Names the 35 Greatest Players of All Time

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Boys Game, the McDonald’s All American Games unveils its 35 Greatest, a list which recognizes the greatest players in Games history, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

The 2012 Games also feature two of the closest contests in the event’s history, with the Girls Game decided by a free throw with less than a second left, and the Boys West Team holding off a furious second-half rally to pull out a four-point win.

McDonalds All American Game Girls Highlights 2012

2018 — The McDonald’s All American Games Heads Back to Atlanta in the Highest-Scoring Contest Since 2000.

After playing in Chicago since 2011, the McDonald’s All American Games move to Atlanta, Ga., which previously hosted the Game in 1983 and 1992. In the highest-scoring Boys Game since 2000, Nassir Little leads all scorers with 28 points to lead the West Team to a 131-128 victory. On the girl's side, Christyn Williams (MVP) records 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the West Team to an 82-79 win.


2020 & 2021 — The McDonald’s All American Games is canceled in consecutive years due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

McDonald’s makes the difficult decision to forego in-person Games in 2020 and 2021 after consulting with health and safety experts and honors each class through a virtual celebration.