Obi Toppin didn’t expect coach Tom Thibodeau to be as excited as he was after the Knicks’ forward won Saturday’s All-Star Slam Dunk Contest when he arrived Wednesday at the team’s first practice after the break. “Everybody congratulated me [at practice], said I had some pretty good dunks,’’ Toppin said. “[Thibodeau] definitely did. I was kind of surprised for a second. He was the first one I talked about it with. He was talking to me about the experience and if I got to talk to any of the guys. But that’s my guy. Coach is cool.’’
Adam Wexler: #Rockets @Jalen Green after tonight's #ATTSlamDunk contest if he wants to be in the dunk contest again, "Yeah, I for sure need a run back, b/c I messed up...I need to run that back next year...I just missed. I had the height, I had the power, I got up there, it just didn't go in." pic.twitter.com/rPDKVUUfzy
Obi Toppin was the top dunker Saturday at NBA All-Star Weekend. The New York Knicks forward went through the legs, tapped the ball off the backboard and finished with a one-handed slam to score a 47 on his final dunk and win the NBA slam dunk contest. "We were talking before the dunk contest and were, like, 'We want to come out here and do things that people have never seen before,'" Toppin said of conversation with Chuck Millan of Team Flight Brothers, a dunk coach he worked with to prepare for the night. "So those dunks, never been done in a dunk contest. I felt good being out there."
Toppin became the third player in Knicks history to win the contest, following Nate Robinson (2006, '09, '10) and Kenny "Sky" Walker (1989). Toppin also won the competition in Cleveland 25 years after a rookie Kobe Bryant won the slam dunk contest in Cleveland, a fact that was not lost on him. "It feels amazing," he said. "There have been a lot of legends that have won the dunk contest, and for my name to be a part of that is something special. I don't take it for granted."
Obi Toppin goes through the legs and taps the backboard with the ball to WIN #ATTSlamDunk! 🏆 #NBAAllStar #StateFarmSaturday
Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns demanded an answer as he bounded into the interview room following the 3-point contest at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Saturday night. "Who bet against me?" Towns asked with an ear-to-ear grin. Whoever did, lost. Towns, thanks to a record-setting 29 points in the final round, emerged as the winner of the 2022 3-point contest, edging out Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and LA Clippers guard Luke Kennard, who each put up 26. Towns was 13-1 at Caesars Sportsbook, the longest odds in the field. Towns is the first big man to win the 3-point contest since Kevin Love in 2012. At 6-foot-11, he is the second-tallest winner of the contest; Dirk Nowitzki, who is 7-0, won it in 2006.
"I told Luke Kennard I wanted to go first, so I was glad when they called my name and that I was gonna go first," Towns said. "Just tremendously confident in my shooting ability and wanted to go first. I wanted to keep pressure on everybody, get a high number that makes it feel almost unattainable. Just that feeling of you have to be perfect, and you miss one, it kind of knocks confidence out, so I wanted to set the tone real quick. "But I just felt good. I just felt really good and really confident all day. The energy that I had all day wasn't nervousness or anxious, it was super confident, and I can't wait to show the world what I can do when given this platform and stage."
Jon Krawczynski: Karl-Anthony Towns shouts out @Kevin Love after winning the 3-point title: "Big man hasn't won in 10 years, and, of course, 10 years ago, a decade ago, who won it? The Wolves [Kevin Love]. It's coming back home where it belongs."
NBA: 🚨 Karl-Anthony Towns opens the final round of #MtnDew3PT with 29! 🚨 2 shooters left on TNT. #NBAAllStar #StateFarmSaturday
Perhaps no player entered a 3-point contest hotter than Luke Kennard. When the LA Clippers sharpshooter arrived in his home state of Ohio on Friday, it was as he came off of his best night shooting 3s since he was a two-time Mr. Basketball at Franklin High School. Kennard made a career-best 8 3-pointers Thursday in a Clippers win against the Rockets. That came one day after Kennard got back in the practice facility at Playa Vista to get himself ready for the event. “I ran through it a few times, a couple days already,” Kennard said after Thursday’s game in LA. “The first time I went through it, I mean, it’s tough. It’s pretty exhausting just getting the timing down and getting a rhythm going. Just where you want to pick the ball up, there’s a lot that goes into it, I didn’t even realize. But all the coaches, some assistant coaches, they were in the gym with me getting me ready, reading the rules. And even they got in it with me, so we went through a whole competition and I came out with a win on both days, so that made me feel a little good. It takes a little bit to get used to, but hopefully I kind of got it going.”
“Credit to KAT — he came out, he said he needed to set the standard, that’s what he got to do,” Kennard said, wishing he could have rolled those opening-round points over to the final round. “(Towns’ 29 points), that’s a good score. I heard it might be like a record or something for the finals, or something like that. So it was fun, man, it was fun.”
Evan Mobley brought his first trophy to Cleveland. The rookie's excellent shooting led a team with Cavaliers teammates Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen to a win in the Skills Challenge in front of their home fans Saturday night. Mobley sealed the victory by hitting a half-court shot on his first try in the final round. A team made up of rookies Josh Giddey, Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes finished second.
Garland, who will play with Allen in Sunday's All-Star Game, put on his own shooting display throughout the competition. He made a clutch 3-pointer to win a tiebreaker over the brothers team of Giannis, Thanasis and Alex Antetokounmpo to reach the championship round. But he was more impressed with his rookie teammate's performance. "He's a unicorn; 7-footer who is 20 years old that can do everything," Garland said. "I'm glad to play with him and have him on my team." Said Allen: "He's one of a kind. Defense, offense and now half court."
NBA: #NBAAllStar@NBAAllStar🏆 The young @cavs trio win the #TacoBellSkills in Cleveland as Evan Mobley comes up CLUTCH knocking down the half-court winner in under 5 seconds! #LetEmKnow @_bigjayy_ @dariusgarland22 @evanmobley
Dane Moore: Karl-Anthony Towns on 3-pt contest: "I ain’t just showing up to be a smiling face. I’m going to compete. I’m not showing up to Cleveland for anything less. I want to win the All-Star game. I want to win Saturday night. Hell, if I get a chance I’m trying to get that MVP on Sunday"
Cody Taylor: Jalen Green said today he once tried Aaron Gordon's under-the-legs dunk from the Slam Dunk Contest and got it. But, he has never tried it again. #NBAAllStar
Keith Pompey: #Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey will replace injured Kings guard Davion Mitchell in the Clorox Clutch Challenge, a team shooting competition that will take place tomorrow during the Rising Stars event at #NBAAllStar weekend.
Mark Haynes: Juan Toscano-Anderson talked about winning the dunk contest. "I really want to win a championship this year. That's the ultimate goal, but to win a slam dunk contest and add that to my resume of life, and things that I've accomplished. I'll be extremely happy."
Gerald Bourguet: “I don’t have the answers for that.” Cam Johnson knew his name wouldn’t be on the list for the 3-Point Contest before it was announced. He said he obviously wanted to do it, but the more important thing is to continue making those 3s in the games pic.twitter.com/9tXFSXrMnl
Cole Anthony hasn’t forgotten his first dunk. He was in the seventh grade — either 12 or 13 years old — when he threw down a left-handed slam for his first dunk. From there Anthony, who’s known to not lack confidence, proceeded to go for more challenging attempts. “Immediately after that, I was trying to windmill,” he said. “From there, I was just trying to do more and more dunks.”
Anthony will have the opportunity to show off his dunking ambition and creativity in the NBA’s Dunk Contest on Feb. 19 in Cleveland as part of All-Star Weekend. He described the opportunity as “a life-long dream of mine since before I could dunk.” “His creativity, charisma, excitement, passion, joy and love for the game is going to be fantastic,” said coach Jamahl Mosley. “Cole does a wonderful job of being that energy-bringer in so many cases. That’s going to stand out.”
Dane Moore: Chris Finch on Karl-Anthony Towns participating in the 3-point contest: "He's one of the best in the league irrespective of position on the floor. At workouts and in practice, he's easy to rebound for."
Under the new format for the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge, three teams of three players will participate in a four-round competition that tests shooting, passing and dribbling ability. The teams are as follows: • Antetokounmpos: Giannis will team up with his brothers Thanasis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Alex Antetokounmpo of the NBA G League’s Raptors 905. • Cavs: Garland will be joined by Cavaliers teammates Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, a rookie who was selected to play in the Clorox Rising Stars during NBA All-Star 2022. • Rooks: Rising Stars selections Scottie Barnes of the Toronto Raptors, Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons and Josh Giddey of the Oklahoma City Thunder will form a team with three NBA rookies.
Each of the three teams will compete in the first three rounds of the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge. The two teams with the most “Challenge Points” after the first three rounds will advance to the Final Round. Challenge Points are earned by winning each of the first three rounds.
Mark Medina: Giannis Antetokounmpo told me he and his brothers, Thanasis & Alex, "haven't decided yet" on whether they will compete in the Skills Challenge during All-Star weekend. Giannis: "We’ll see how we finish this last stretch. Then I’ll see what my brothers are doing."
Shams Charania: Toronto Raptors All-Star Fred VanVleet has committed to the Three-Point Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Rob Schafer: Ayo didn’t know he’d been drafted by Gary Payton for Rising Stars until @KCJHoop told him postgame. Payton coached Ayo during a Nike event his senior year of HS “We had a great relationship. I picked his brain already. Now that you told me he drafted me, that means a lot.”
Shams Charania: Sources: Three Antetokounmpo brothers – Giannis and Thanasis of the Milwaukee Bucks and Alex of the G League's Raptors 905 – are strongly considering participating together in the Skills Challenge at NBA All-Star. A revamped competition is expected to have teams of three players.
Tom Orsborn: Rising Stars roster does not include Spurs' Devin Vassell: Here's what he said at shootaround about the possibility of getting selected. “I try not to think about it. It’s one of my personal goals, but at the end of the day, I’m just trying to help the team get better."
Jason Quick: Blazers’ guard Anfernee Simons will not defend his Slam Dunk title, telling @The Athletic “I just wanted to focus on the season” while adding that the title was “more of a checklist accomplishment.” Simons is coming off a January when he averaged 23.1 points and 6.7 assists.
Shams Charania: Sources: Houston Rockets rookie Jalen Green will headline the NBA Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. Expected participants:
Duane Rankin: "Most definitely." Cam Johnson when asked if he wants to be in 3-point contest on #NBAAllStar weekend. #Suns pic.twitter.com/opHgl1tK55
Shams Charania: Orlando Magic guard Cole Anthony is committing to the NBA Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. At 6-foot-3, Anthony has had some explosive dunks and is having a breakout sophomore season (18 PPG, 6 RPG, 6 APG).
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA has a new format for Rising Stars at All-Star Weekend, featuring four seven-player teams competing in a three-game tournament and each game having final target score. 28 players: 12 rookies, 12 sophomores – and for the first time, four G League Ignite players.
JD Shaw: The NBA has announced a new All-Star Rising Stars format for this year. Details: pic.twitter.com/4KqNXjLZTu
Chris Haynes: Sources: @NBAonTNT report on Trae Young’s intentions to participate in the 3-Point Contest if selected as an All-Star and the Atlanta Hawks’ plan to place a bid to host All-Star Weekend. pic.twitter.com/5RJ1ITFbQe
What goals did you have for yourself this season? Any accolades or participating in the three-point contest? Seth Curry: I don’t have any individual goals for statistics. I want to be efficient and shoot the ball at a high clip. You brought up the three-point contest. I feel like I’ve got to add one of those to the mantel to be a part of the (Curry) family. Hopefully, I can get one of those before my career is over. Steph (Curry) already has two of them. If I get the invite, I’m going to go to as many as possible, so I can add one to the trophy case.
It’s been 10 years since Griffin caught a Baron Davis lob and leaped over the hood of this car in the 2011 dunk contest, but neither the silver Sharpie ink on the horn nor the black ink of Griffin’s signature near the driver’s door has faded. Longa has been driving the car since roughly 2015 and says it’s still in good condition. It has just under 89,000 miles on it and gets about 26 miles per gallon in the city. Longa is sure the value of the car is substantial—a normal 2011 Optima that hasn’t had an NBA player dunk over it could fetch anywhere between $3,000 and $11,000 today. But he is content with never finding out what his is worth. “It’s kind of my dream car,” Longa said. “I’m crazy, I’m still in love with the car.”
Primeaux ultimately paid $35,220 (well above market value) for the car, which was promptly delivered to his dealership. There, he immediately began not just displaying it, but also marketing his business around it. Primeaux made posters and advertisements featuring the car and the dunk. He allowed people to come to the dealership just to see the vehicle and even created giveaways around the car and the legend of the dunk. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the Optima, and the business, he says, more than benefited from it. “This is no BS, I would say it was invaluable,” Primeaux said. “I couldn’t measure it, but I got [the $35,220] 10 times from it.”
Ian Begley: Immanuel Quickley, in part, on not making Rising Stars game: "Yeah I definitely feel like I could have been selected. But it's not ever a reason to (stop) working hard or continue to come with energy every day & be positive for your teammates...Just use it as a motivating factor"
@Spursin9: 6-man Dunk Contest of players in their prime, who would you pick to be in that contest? Blake Griffin: Vince Carter, Michael Jordan, Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine, Dominique Wilkins, Nate Robinson
Lillard said he told him the windmill dunk felt like a backup-type dunk. “I told him, ‘If you do the kiss dunk — I’ve never seen nobody do that,'” Lillard said. The finishing touches on the kiss dunk were also offered by Lillard. When Simons landed, he blew a kiss up toward the rim. “I have to take credit for that,” Lillard said. “That was my idea to blow a kiss at the rim so people know that’s what he was doing.”
“T-Mac was my hero growing up,” Simons said. “He was the first person I saw, and I fell in love with the game. He and LeBron (James) were the first jerseys I ever had. He was just a big impact on my life, especially him being from Florida as well.” Simons, who is shy by nature, said he still hasn’t met his idol. “I had a chance to meet him a couple times when I was younger, but I was too scared to meet him,” Simons said. “So hopefully one day I get to meet him.”
Scott Agness: Cassius Stanley: “Pretty much everyone around me thought I got a 50. Even someone who I looked up to, Zach LaVine, came out and was like ‘You got a 44 on that?’ "I get to be on the list of people who might’ve gotten robbed for a 50, so that’s a cool thing I guess."
On Sunday, Stephen Curry won the NBA All-Star 3-point contest for the second time, joining Larry Bird, Craig Hodges, Mark Price, Jeff Hornacek, Peja Stojakovic and Jason Kapono as multiple-time winners. Curry scored 28 points in the final round to edge Utah’s Mike Conley, who registered 27 points.
Curry started slow in the final round, missing four of his five shots on the first rack of basketballs from the corner. He started to heat up on his second rack, making four of five and then finished by making nine of his final 11 shots at Atlanta's State Farm Arena. He needed to make his final shot to win, and he swished it.
Marc J. Spears: Pacers All-Star Domantas Sabonis won the #NBAAllStar Skills Challenge.
Though he has more 50-point, perfect score dunks (eight) than any player in NBA history – more than Michael Jordan, more than Zach LaVine – Gordon stands alone as the league's best dunker without a crown. “Growing up as a little kid, that’s something I dreamed of – winning the NBA dunk contest trophy,” Gordon says in the opening to the documentary short "Mr. 50" that follows him through the 2020 event during All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
Gordon could be bitter about the results. “I don’t harbor any bad or negative feelings,” he said. He remains a fan of the event and is worried his experience – perfect scores, no trophy – may prevent others from participating. “I have some fears that I ruined the dunk contest, that people aren’t going to want to do it anymore,” Gordon said. “I hope that people see ‘Mr. 50’ and are inspired and continue to elevate that dunk contest because there are still dunks that haven’t been done. I’m not going to do them, but I hope somebody comes in and does them. It’s a great event. It’s beautiful for the game.”
The genesis of the documentary began with the idea to give viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of his weekend. “But it turned into something more,” Gordon said. “My friend and filmmaker Aaron Chapman chopped it up in a way that I had never seen before. It was much more artistic, much more poetic and raw. “The message I wanted to get across is to conquer your fears and be satisfied in your actions more than the outcome.”
Scott Agness: Pacers rookie Cassius Stanley, who will be competing in the @NBAAllStar slam dunk contest, has signed with @PUMAHoops and will wear PUMA shoes in the competition.
Mark Medina: NBA announced that Utah's Mike Conley is an All-Star injury replacement for Phoenix's Devin Booker (sprained left knee). Conley will also participate in the 3-point contest.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on Keldon Johnson's selection to Rising Stars roster: "It means a lot to Keldon. I’m happy as hell for him. He deserves it. It really makes him feel good that his efforts have been applauded and rewarded and noticed, so that’s great."
For the first time during his third NBA season, Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons is going to be participating in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. And needless to say, he's looking forward to it. "Super excited. I can't wait man," Simons said of the dunk contest on NBC Sports Northwest's Trail Blazers Courtside.
Derrick Jones Jr. also offered him a key piece of advice when choosing to go with a dunk: Make sure you make it on the first try. And just how many dunks will Simons have in his bag of tricks? He's working on four. And if the contest goes into a dunk-off as it did last year between Aaron Gordon and Jones Jr. did, Simons has a bold plan for how to compete. "Anything extra, and I'm just gonna wing it."
Covington, 30, is the only active player in the league who attended an H.B.C.U. — a distinction that he said was not lost on him. “Of course, I would love to have a break just to get away and reset,” he said, “but I feel like it’s a life-changing experience, and it’s an opportunity I can’t pass up.”
Mike Vorkunov: Obi Toppin's dunk contest strategy after watching old contests: out with the new, in with the old "I was going to try to do stuff that hasn't been done yet in the dunk contest but I've seen a lot of great dunks so I might have to bring out one of the old dunks that someone did."
Marc Stein: U.S. Rising Stars roster as the NBA announced via @nba_topshot: LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Tyler Herro, De'Andre Hunter, Keldon Johnson, Ja Morant, Michael Porter Jr., Zion Williamson, James Wiseman.
Stefan Bondy: NBA announces that Julius Randle is in the Skills Competition. He’s facing Luka Doncic, Nikola Vucevic, Domantas Sabonis, Robert Covington and Chris Paul.
July 3, 2022 | 9:44 pm EDT Update
For the Nets, trading Kevin Durant correctly is a lot more important than doing it quickly. League personnel who spoke to The Post said Nets general manager Sean Marks — and by default team owner Joe Tsai as well — are adamant about getting back All-Star caliber talent in return for Durant. And with their disgruntled star having four years left on his contract, the Nets are in no rush to deal.
League executives who spoke with The Post said Toronto was not only well-positioned, but confident of being able to put together the best package. The Raptors have balked at the notion of putting Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any deal, although those same executives opined that could be a negotiating ploy by savvy Masai Ujiri, who has a history of pulling off huge trades.
Seemingly every contender has touched base on Durant, with some even showing tepid interest in Kyrie Irving. Philadelphia spoke with the Nets, although a source told The Post “nothing happened there.”
The 76ers — who are currently negotiating with James Harden — are keeping an eye on Irving, a source told The Post. And with former Nets point guard Goran Dragic spurning Dallas to ink a one-year deal with Chicago — according to Boardroom, which is owned by Durant — The Athletic reported that the Mavericks are also showing interest in Irving.
Kellan Olson: Suns have announced their Summer League roster. Ish Wainright is on the squad. Former Colorado guard McKinley Wright IV also in there. Same case as last year with a handful of guys from overseas.
Anthony Slater: James Wiseman played 5-on-5 full contact today for the first time in this reintegration. He remains on track for a likely summer league appearance in Las Vegas at some point. Jonathan Kuminga will meet team in Vegas, could get some action.
July 3, 2022 | 7:04 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: Frank Ntilikina’s $2 million contract for next season becomes guaranteed tomorrow and the Mavericks’ intention, league sources say, is indeed to retain the former Knicks lottery pick. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com