These days, Gordon drives a Tesla, backs a mental awareness app called Lucid, and collects gadgets like they’re stamps or baseball cards. “Aaron and Drew discovered those full-wall projectors,” Davis quipped. “I’d come home and these grown people are doing blanket pillow forts in the family room watching the full projector set up.” The idea for a “Drone Dunk” came to Gordon this past year as he puzzled over how to top his 2016 performance in Toronto, which featured the Magic’s mascot spinning on a hoverboard. While surfing the Internet, Gordon had his “Aha” moment when he stumbled on a video of a drone delivering packages. “I thought, ‘Why not?’ Why couldn’t it just deliver a basketball? What if it just dropped an alley-oop?” No question, a drone is a clear step up from a hoverboard.
But then his biggest fear, the dunk’s timing, spoiled the show. Gordon’s first effort at the alley-oop finish, which involved passing the ball through his legs to dunk with his right hand, wasn’t particularly close. The drone team quickly reloaded the basketball and the pilots quickly repositioned the drone for a second effort, and then a third. The contest organizers then allowed him a fourth try, which he converted to earn 38 points out of a possible 50. Instead of celebrating, he shook his head with a somewhat disgusted smile, and his score reflected the judges’ intolerance for the missed attempts. “You can’t [recover],” he told SI.com by telephone, still sounding clearly disappointed more than an hour after the contest’s end. “After I didn’t get the first one down, I knew I was eliminated. I knew it was pretty much over after that.”
Then the talk took a more serious turn. Asked if he is plugging himself into the Bay Area tech scene, Mr. Durant responded that he is eagerly following the lead of a Warriors teammate, Andre Iguodala, who is a noted investor in companies like Twitter, Facebook and Tesla.
Last summer, in fact, Mr. Durant and Mr. Kleiman unveiled a start-up of their own, the Durant Company, with a swelling portfolio of investments in tech companies like Postmates and Acorns, in addition to hotels and restaurants and film and television development. They are also investing with Ronald Conway, one of Silicon Valley’s “super angel” investors and a front-row fixture at Oracle Arena (the Warriors’ current home in Oakland), and consulting with Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’s widow, on his own charity foundation
The NBA says it uses internal screening and third-party vendors to screen out fraudulent votes. The league added a tweak this year that sources say was born of Pachulia’s suspiciously high finish a year ago: Fans hold only 50 percent of the vote to determine All-Star starters. The vote of current players counts for 25 percent, and a media panel has the final 25 percent of the say. Those mediating factors knocked Pachulia out of the All-Star Game. But they didn’t answer the most basic question: Is the NBA All-Star fan vote a sham?
TO THE CASUAL observer, the Pachulia vote was the most alarming. But to John Kelly, the startling outlier was the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. Kelly is the CEO and founder of the New York-based social media intelligence firm Graphika, which monitors, categorizes and maps social media traffic for public and private clients. Graphika sifted through more than 5 million tweets on behalf of ESPN and found all sorts of interesting things about NBA All-Star voting, including 10 hyperactive bot accounts voting for Leonard about 1,000 times per day, a figure that Kelly called “outrageously high.”