Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 15th 2016 Contents A50
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TORONTO---Zach LaVine called it the best
dunk contest ever, a showdown with Aaron
Gordon that rivaled what Michael Jordan
and Dominique Wilkins did.
Maybe they will come back next year and
do it again.
"In Charlotte, yeah, if they want me to
come back, I probably will," Gordon said.
For now, it s time to turn the attention at
All-Star weekend back where it started: Kobe
Bryant and the rest of the NBA s best.
The All-Star Game tipped off last night,
when the crowd was still buzzing over the
performances LaVine and Gordon put on to
cap off All-Star Saturday.
LaVine finally won after extra dunks were
needed, joining Jordan, Jason Richardson and
Nate Robinson as the only back-to-back win-
ners of the dunk title.
He knows people might still talk about Jor-
dan or Julius Erving, great dunkers of the past.
But even they didn t pull off what LaVine and
Gordon did Saturday, so LaVine was asked if
it was the best.
"Like half the dunks we did were like pro-
fessional dunker dunks, and it takes them four
or five times to try it and make it, and we did
it on the first try," LaVine said. "It was crazy.
In my opinion, yes."
So good that people forgot about the Splash
Brothers shootout in the 3-point contest that
Klay Thompson won to prevent Stephen
Curry s repeat, and the All-Star Game on last
night that featured Bryant s final appearance.
All-Star weekend so far has belonged to
LaVine and the Minnesota Timberwolves,
as rookie Karl-Anthony Towns showed big
guys have skills, too.
The night---and the first two nights of this
first All-Star weekend held outside the US---
ended with a celebration for LaVine, who won
the MVP award on Friday night in the Rising
Stars Challenge for rookies and second-year
He outlasted Gordon in a duel that needed
two overtimes and ended only when there
was literally no ball to use. Curry batted it
down to other end of the court after he and
the other NBA stars who were as captivated
as the fans and celebrities sitting courtside
charged onto the court after LaVine leaped
from just inside the free-throw line, put the
ball between his legs in midair and slammed
He and Gordon traded perfect scores of 50
for the previous few rounds after advancing
to the final, but the Orlando Magic rookie
mustered only a 47 in his last attempt.
But he may have had the most memorable
dunks of the night with some help from the
Magic s mascot---aptly named Stuff the Magic
On Stuff s first assist, Gordon took the ball
with one hand from the mascot, who was
spinning around on a hoverboard, and did a
360-degree dunk. He got another assist from
Stuff on the next one, leaping high to take
the ball, putting it under his legs---nearly in
a sitting position in midair---and slamming it
down with his left hand.
"Me and him are now like best friends, me
and Stuff," Gordon said.
The only boos went to the judges, with the
crowd thinking Shaquille O Neal was a little
stingy with a couple of 9s instead of perfect
Earlier in the 3-point contest, Curry wasn t
even the best on his own team after setting
a final-round record last year.
This time, Thompson was so good, he had
clinched it even before the final ball on his
final rack. He started to walk away after making
first four---then turned and made that one,
"He definitely shot well tonight," Curry said.
"I still think I can hold my own in the com-
petition, but the way that he finished off that
second round was amazing. So trust me, the
pressure of knowing what number he had to
hit and making five out of five was fun to
Towns beat Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah
Thomas to win the Skills Challenge, further
validating the evolution of the big man from
a plodding post player to a playmaking force.
"I m glad I was able to help the bigs come
out with this trophy," said Towns, the No 1
overall pick in the June draft.
"This is bigger than me. This is for all the
bigs out there, with the game changing the
way it is, to show that bigs can stand up with
guards and skill-wise."
LaVine exits All-Star stage for Kobe and NBA's best
Orlando Magic forward
Aaron Gordon slam dunks
during the NBA all-star
skills competition in Toronto
on Saturday. AP PHOTO
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