NBA rumors: Julius Randle has Elfrid Payton's All-Star endorsement

Steve Popper: Elfrid on Randle as an all-star: “Honestly, it’s not even a question. I don’t even know what we’re talking about. He’s definitely been playing at an all-star level. We’ve been winning. I don’t think it’s really a debate.”

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Bleacher Report: "There's only a couple of people that think D-Jones should have won, though ... You and D-Jones." D-Wade and Aaron Gordon clear the air about the 2020 dunk contest *NSFW* (via @DwyaneWade)

http://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/1256408096517189633
Aaron Gordon has put his displeasure with the 2020 Dunk Contest into a "diss" track titled "9 OUT OF 10," in which he calls out Dwyane Wade for the vote that helped him lose to Miami's Derrick Jones Jr. In an epic dunk contest back in February, Gordon dunked over Chance the Rapper (twice) and threw down 360-degree, between-the-leg slams. The battle between Gordon and Jones carried on into a "dunk-off" in which each player had to improvise dunks that hadn't been rehearsed. For Gordon's final dunk, he cleared 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall.
The latest installment comes two months after Gordon lost to Wade's former teammate, Derrick Jones Jr., in a controversial dunk contest during NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. Last week Gordon released a diss rap track aimed at Wade, one of the judges who gave Gordon a nine when jumped over 7-foot-5 rookie Tacko Fall on his final dunk. The song is titled "9 out of 10." The chorus goes, “Nine out of 10, can you please fix your lens? Nine out 10 got you playing pretend. Nine out of 10, here we go again. Nine out of 10, could have bought the fam' a Benz. Nine out of 10, are you making amends? Nine out of 10, probably lost an M.”
The latest installment comes two months after Gordon lost to Wade's former teammate, Derrick Jones Jr., in a controversial dunk contest during NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. Last week Gordon released a diss rap track aimed at Wade, one of the judges who gave Gordon a nine when jumped over 7-foot-5 rookie Tacko Fall on his final dunk. The song is titled "9 out of 10." The chorus goes, “Nine out of 10, can you please fix your lens? Nine out 10 got you playing pretend. Nine out of 10, here we go again. Nine out of 10, could have bought the fam' a Benz. Nine out of 10, are you making amends? Nine out of 10, probably lost an M.”
Jason Richardson: Well, I think Aaron Gordon has been robbed twice in a row. I might be biased, but I think the dunks he did were unseen and spectacular. He was great. I think he should be a two-time dunk contest winner. I totally believe that. It’s special what he can do. It’s special what most of these guys can do now. I was just talking to a kid yesterday who recognized me when I was working out at the gym. I was telling him how these guys are evolving. It’s just funny how evolved these guys are, how crazy they’re jumping and the tricks they’re coming up with. It’s just amazing.

http://twitter.com/Rachel__Nichols/status/1233530240359636992
But has the increased attention stemming from Saturday night’s memorable victory over Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic changed Jones Jr.? “Man, he walked in and didn’t say nothing to me this morning,” Jimmy Butler joked. “Nah, he’s the same dude. He’s always going to be like that. And I know him: If he goes to the dunk contest next year, he’ll win it again.”
Much like in 2016 when Gordon was the tough-luck loser to two-time champion Zach LaVine, Gordon has spent the past few days dealing with the fall out of an event he’s always thought he was destined to win at some point in his basketball career. In the subsequent four days since the Dunk Contest ended, Gordon has heard from countless numbers of fans, fellow NBA players and celebrities in the music and movie industries about a result they felt was wrong. That, in a weird and twisted sort of way, has helped to soothe Gordon’s disappointment over the results, he said. ``I definitely feel some type of way about it,’’ Gordon said while carefully choosing his words. ``I’m definitely kind of irritated a little bit and a little frustrated, as well. ``But it’s OK, it’s really OK,’’ he added. ``We’ve got to move on because it’s over now. I think it will be talked about for years and years and years, which is really cool. But at the same time, it’s over.’’
We talked to Dr. J -- who was in the building for the dunk contest -- at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. on Monday ... and we asked the hoops legend if the Orlando Magic star was robbed by the judges in Chi-town. "I don't know if robbed is the right term, if it had ended in a tie, I don't think anybody would've been upset. But, a contest like that going into basically 2 overtimes. Third overtime. You hate to have a loser." BUT, forced to pick a winner, Dr. J -- who won the inaugural ABA Dunk Contest in 1976 -- says Gordon's final dunk was justtttttttt a little better than Derrick Jones Jr.'s jam. "I think [Gordon's] last dunk was cleaner. Neither one of them were 50's because they had shot their load in terms of their best stuff."

http://twitter.com/Vivek/status/1229180177432760320
It was admirable of 34-year-old Dwight Howard, the 2008 dunk champ, do get back out there with Jones, Gordon, and White Men CAN Jump spokesman Pat Connaughton. Sources said Howard’s Friday night dunk contest practice was drawn out, with Howard having to revise his dunk routine with dunks that he could actually pull off. He posted the lowest single dunk score in Saturday’s contest, with a 41 for jumping, posing with his arms spread, then spinning and dunking. “I was going to put my arms in the rim,” Howard said, when asked what dunk he might’ve done in the finals. “I couldn’t wait to do it. But it’s OK. I’m happy to be here.”
Amid the controversial yet inconsequential finish of the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, the league veered from the rules to determine Saturday’s winner. Instead of letting the judges vote for either Orlando’s Aaron Gordon or Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. after the first dunk of the dunk-off in the final round, the NBA allowed Gordon and Jones to attempt a second dunk-off dunk, which isn’t in the rules.
Malika Andrews: Derrick Jones Jr. said that he expected the judges to make it so there would have been a third “dunk off” round after Aaron Gordon dinked over Tacko Fall: “He clipped Tacko’s head, so they couldn’t give him a 50. I expected them to give him a 48 so we could go again.”
Andre Iguodala: The right guy won.... Kenny wasn’t behind the judges table....
Jorge Sierra: No dunk titles for Gordon, but he will get a lot of sympathy out of this. That’s worth something. Nikola Vucevic: That’s worth nothing when you get robbed twice
Karl-Anthony Towns: #DunkContest pic.twitter.com/BBLp9iSVzM

http://twitter.com/KarlTowns/status/1228886910929686528
Ja Morant: judges are wilding 🤦🏽‍♂️
Austin Rivers: Nahhh that’s not cool.... AG been robbed twice now.
Alex Kennedy: Dwight Howard said he would compete in the dunk contest again in the future. He joked that he needs to practice between-the-leg dunks and look more like a small forward next time.
Josh Robbins: Aaron Gordon said during his post-contest press conference he was retiring from the dunk contest. But that shouldn't be interpreted as some kind of protest about tonight's result. In the weeks preceding the contest, Gordon said 2020 would be his final dunk contest.
Nicole Auerbach: I need Ja and Zion in next year’s dunk contest. Ja Morant: nah.
SLAM Magazine: Dwight paying tribute to Kobe on this dunk 🙏🏿🙏🏿 #ATTSlamDunk (via @NBAonTNT) pic.twitter.com/sw5VXbghmu
Tania Ganguli: Dwight Howard's plan on that second dunk was to have Kobe Bryant bring him the Superman cape. Once Bryant did that, Howard planned to show Bryant the 24 on his chest. He said Bryant had agreed to do it.
Chase Hughes: Davis Bertans teared up after the 3PT contest when asked about Kobe Bryant, whom he never met: "Him and his daughter, just seeing that and me having a daughter right now, those emotions that we're having together... it's more about him being a father to his daughters."
SportsCenter: Aaron Gordon says he feels like he should have two trophies and likely won’t do the dunk contest again. (via @Rachel__Nichols)
Gordon also lost the 2016 dunk contest in similarly heartbreaking fashion to Zach Levine. "It’s a wrap, bro," the Orlando Magic forward told reporters afterwards, signaling his dunk contest career is over. "I feel like I should have two trophies. ... Jumping over somebody 7-5 and dunking is no easy feat. What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?"
Derrick Jones Jr. claimed the Slam Dunk Contest title, out-dueling Aaron Gordon in a thrilling double-tiebreaker dunk-off. Jones’ final slam received a score of 48 to barely beat out Gordon’s score of 47. Gordon’s final dunk saw him leap over 7-foot-5 center Tacko Fall to get the crowd on its feet and send fellow NBA stars on the sidelines into a frenzy. But it wasn’t enough to appease the five-judge panel.
There was no shortage of perfect scores on Saturday night. Gordon had five, two in the first round, two in the second and then one in the dunk-off rounds. His off-the-backboard extended 360 in the bonus rounds drew the most raves, with All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpograbbing Gordon in excitement afterwards. "We're here to do four dunks," Gordon said. "So out of four dunks, it should be the best out of four dunks."
It looked like Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker was headed for his second 3-Point Contest championship. But then Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield got hot, sinking four of his final five shots on his money-ball rack and edging Booker for his first 3-Point Contest title. Hield, who is third in the NBA at 3.8 3s made per game, had 27 points in the final round, outscoring Booker (26) and Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans (22).
Hield needed to make the final shot to win, and he did. Hield made two of his first five shots, then made 17 of his next 20 from the regular five-ball racks. "I was talking to Book, and Book said he's been in it before, and said he already got one, and that gave me motivation to get one," Hield said. "He said coming every time brings more pressure. As a shooter, you want to win one. Every shooter wants to win one, and I feel like that."
Anthony Chiang: Bam Adebayo dedicated the Skills Challenge trophy to his mother, Marilyn Blount. They even took photos together on stage with the trophy. Emotional moment for both of them.
Often times, players that are at the end of the bench and see "garbage time" minutes are the ones that submit their names to dunk during All Star Weekend. Howard said that he doesn't see that trend reversing itself any time soon. "During All Star weekend, a lot of guys are getting ready for the second half of the season," Howard said. "So it is pretty hard to get those guys to want to be in the dunk contest. But, this is the thing that I enjoy. I have been dunking my whole life basically."
Sarah K. Spencer: Trae Young said he did a couple practice rounds of the 3-point contest when the Hawks were in Cleveland for their last game before the All-Star break. I asked if he won. But he was just competing against himself, trying to get the highest score he could.
USA TODAY Sports: Pat Connaughton admits he’s not as well-known as others in the NBA dunk contest. But he thinks that’s an advantage.
It didn't matter that he didn't win the dunk contest that night (Zach LaVine did). Everything had changed as far as his place in the sport and marketing worlds were concerned. "It took me from a domestic, American-known name to all over the world, people knew who I was," Gordon told ESPN after Thursday night's dunk contest practice session. "After that 2016 dunk contest, people really started to take a liking to me all over the world."
More than three decades later, some details of the classic slam dunk contest showdown between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins are a bit fuzzy to Hall of Famer Gail Goodrich. One of five judges for the competition, the former Los Angeles Lakers' great is, however, certain of a few things: His Airness soared to a slightly higher level than the Human Highlight Reel, there was no pressure to crown Jordan the slam dunk king on his home court and the judges were not in cahoots. “It was very, very close,” Goodrich said of the competition. “They both performed with excellence. I thought that Michael performed just a little bit ahead of Dominique. I cast my vote for Michael.”
TBS broadcasters Bob Neal, Rick Barry and Steve Jones questioned the judging at the end, with a laughing Jones even half-joking: “Note was passed on to the judges.” Goodrich, however, insisted there was no thumb on the scale favouring Jordan, no pressure from the league. “No, absolutely none,” he said. “Nor did, as judges, we confer with one-another. Not at all.”
It is still the dunk contest by which all other dunk contests are measured: Two stars, at the peak of their powers, the players who finished first and second in that season's scoring standings, going head-to-head to decide a winner. Jordan left the old Chicago Stadium that night with the trophy. To this day, many believe Wilkins was the rightful winner. Either way, it was a never-to-be-forgotten show — and now, for the first time since that night 32 years ago, the dunk contest is returning to Chicago on Saturday night. "I did have a homecourt advantage, yes," Jordan said this week in an interview with The Associated Press. "The fans got their money's worth," Wilkins said in a separate interview with AP.
On Saturday at Chicago’s United Center, the Magic forward will compete in what he promises will be his final dunk contest, a matchup against former contest champion Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers, Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat and Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks. Asked what fans can expect, Gordon provided a simple answer: “I’m gonna win.”
On Saturday at Chicago’s United Center, the Magic forward will compete in what he promises will be his final dunk contest, a matchup against former contest champion Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers, Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat and Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks. Asked what fans can expect, Gordon provided a simple answer: “I’m gonna win.”
Christian Clark: Nicolo Melli already had a vacation planned to the Bahamas when he found out he was a late addition to Rising Stars. “Griff told me at the end of the shootaround. I thought he was joking."
Bucks Forward Pat Connaughton took to social media on Wednesday to recruit a Wisconsin sports star for Saturday night at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in Chicago. Connaughton is one of four selected for the annual skills competition that's a staple of NBA All Star Weekend. Connaughton tweeted a photo of a note to Christian Yelich that read "Christian, I have a great idea! Meet me in Chicago this weekend. P.C." (Pat Connaughton)
Eric Woodyard: Bucks' Pat Connaughton tells ESPN he's looking to win the dunk contest and has a "few" surprises. "It's not the first underdog story I've had to write," he said. "I'll go into it, I'll have fun with it, but I'll still take it pretty seriously and see what I can do."
The NBA announced the official roster for the All-Star Celebrity Game on Wednesday, with a group that includes Chicago celebrities, basketball stars and recording artists. At the top of the list are Chicago rappers Chance the Rapper and Common, who will serve as captains in the Feb. 14 game at Wintrust Arena and as ambassadors for All-Star Weekend in Chicago. The pair also will perform at halftime of the 69th All-Star Game at the United Center.
The NBA and WNBA will be represented in the game as well as former DePaul and Young star Quentin Richardson and WNBA star Chelsea Gray are set to play on Wilbon’s team. On the other side, former NBA forward Darius Miles, WNBA star A’ja Wilson and former Bears defensive tackle Anthony “Spice” Adams will lace up for Smith’s team.
Mark Medina: Dwight Howard said he got word Kobe Bryant agreed to help him out at the dunk contest. Dwight says it’s “heartbreaking” that couldn’t happen.
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May 6, 2021 | 7:06 am EDT Update

Nate Bjorkgren takes blame for any communication issues

One day after ESPN reported coach Nate Bjorkgren faces an uncertain future with Indiana, the new coach blamed himself for any communication problems with players and those in the organization. “You know I don’t make excuses for things,” he told reporters before the game. “I’m a young coach. I’m learning, I’m growing and I’m trying to be better. This is on me. I’m the head coach and fingers should be pointed at me. I love coaching this team and the relationships with these coaches and players, I’ve just got to keep getting better.”
3 hours ago via ESPN
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Some of those NBA officials are now wondering whether Budenholzer’s time in Milwaukee is about to expire – especially if the Bucks don’t make a deep playoff run. “Bud knows the situation he’s in,’’ an NBA executive, who knows Budenholzer, said. “There’s a lot of pressure on him, no doubt. He didn’t do so good in the playoffs the last two seasons even with maybe the best player in the league (Giannis). “Now, that they got Holiday. They gave up a fortune for him. So, he’s feeling the heat. I think they have to get to the Finals for him to keep his job.’’ Another NBA official echoes those comments, saying, “He’s on the hot seat. He has to win big in the playoffs. This is a tough business; it’s a bottom-line business.’’
A league source also suggested Budenholzer’s future in Milwaukee could hinge on another factor. “I’ve heard things about his relationship with the Greek Freak,’’ the official said. “I’ve heard it’s not the best. I heard Giannis accepts things from him and respects him because he’s the head coach.
Storyline: Mike Budenholzer Hot Seat?