Storyline: All-Star Contests

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The presentation that millions saw Saturday night was not all Collins’ idea. He was skeptical at first and thought the entirety of the act was too sophisticated for a dunk contest. He originally had approached NBA officials with a plan to leap over an object that hadn’t been jumped over before in a dunk contest. As the two parties discussed options, a plane was settled on. In theory, it was perfect because of North Carolina’s aviation history. Collins, however, didn’t have control of the size of the plane as the construction of the plane was handled by the league. The first conversation was just the two sides agreeing to a plane being involved in one of Collins’ dunks. As conversations continued, league representatives also suggested he include a nod to the Tuskegee Airmen for Black History Month, and the NBA would create a short intro video for the Wright brothers and provide the aviation headgear. Collins’ mother was a sergeant in the Air Force, and he’s a history buff himself, so he went along with it, thinking the creativity behind it would be appreciated. It fell flat.

There was a lack of energy from the crowd all night, and a salute to the state’s history wasn’t going to be enough for the fans to care. Collins felt defeated after completing the dunk. He threw the hat he was wearing into the crowd and took a seat on the bench where he kept shaking his head in frustration. “I was just disappointed,” Collins said.

“He has been scoring the basketball, but I think he’s been doing a really good job of deciphering when to score and when to pass,” Drew said recently. “That was something that coming into this thing with him that we knew we would have to teach him, and show him, and continue to harp on. But what I’m seeing, he’s kind of picking and choosing his spots. Which is what point guards do.” Sexton said he will watch the Rising Stars game. He wants to support teammate Osman and Sexton is friends with a number of participants.

While such a reality is laughable now, five All-Stars took part in the dunk festivities in 1985: Dominique Wilkins, Michael Jordan, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Clyde Drexler and Larry Nance. Another All-Star was a scratch due to injury: Charles Barkley. (His replacement was a little-known player named Terence Stansbury, who delivered the memorable “Statue of Liberty” 360-degree dunk.) The 1985 NBA Slam Dunk Contest has gone down in history as arguably the best ever, as Wilkins outlasted a sweatsuit-wearing Jordan for the dunk crown in Indianapolis. “We wanted to know who the best was,” Wilkins told The Undefeated. “It was as simple as that. And we wanted to do it for the fans. That was the biggest thing. That’s what everybody came to the All-Star Weekend to see. The dunk contest was a signature event.”

HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE THE DUNK CONTEST? Vince Carter: I would do it like the old days, like you would do in streetball. Next man up, then once you go, it’s next, next, next, next. To me, the gimmicky thing is kind of overrated. Show them what you’re ‘cooking’ with. Don’t put the onus on a guy to have to use a prop or a teammate. Just go out there and throw the ball out there. It’s your turn. And let that be that. And that’s kind of how it originated. That’s kind of how it organically happens on the streetball or basketball court. Dominique Wilkins: I don’t know what you can do because the best athletes don’t want to get in it. That’s one thing you can’t change. As for the format, I like the old-school format. You go out there and get you a ball and let your imagination do its thing. Keep it simple.

WHY AREN’T THE ELITE PLAYERS COMPETING? Dominique Wilkins: The big-time athletes won’t get in it. That is the first thing that comes to mind. But they got so many things going on besides that. … Everybody’s scared to fail. Vince Carter: I don’t think there’s a remedy. It’s just how they’re feeling. I can’t answer that question. I just don’t know. That was just something I looked forward to. But in my mind, I didn’t know I would become a star player that night. Prior to it, I wasn’t a star player. I was [a high] pick. But after that night, my life changed. I also was in the All-Star Game, so it kind of goes both ways. [The dunk contest] was something I wanted to do. … One time was enough for me. I didn’t want to be labeled as the dunk contest guy.

Terrence Ross said he was told by the NBA staffer he spoke to about competing in the 3-point shoot at the NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte on Feb. 17 that the event was already full of participants. Reportedly, brothers Steph Curry and Seth Curry have already committed to compete in the 3-point shootout in their childhood home of Charlotte, as has veteran Dallas Mavericks’ forward Dirk Nowitzki. “I wanted to do the 3-point and I tried to get in this year, but they told me that they already had the guys for it,’’ Ross said. “That was a little disappointing.’’

Each participant on the World Team’s 10-player roster hails from a different country, with four continents represented (North America, Africa, Europe and Australia). The World Team also includes three players who participated as campers in Basketball Without Borders (BWB), the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program: Ayton (BWB Global 2016), Gilgeous-Alexander (BWB Global 2016) and Markkanen (BWB Europe 2014; BWB Global 2015).

Charlotte, North Carolina, will be the site of this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend in February, but Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles doesn’t plan on being anywhere near the area. Despite a Yahoo Sports petition being started last week to get him in the Skills Challenge, Ingles would rather spend the time with his wife, Renae, and twin children far, far away from the festivities. “You know exactly what my thoughts are on that. You know what my answer’s going to be. I’m going on vacation,” Ingles said. “I’m going to spend time with my kids and my wife. That’s it.”

As of Wednesday morning, ahead of Utah’s game versus Denver, more than 2,400 people had signed the petition with a 2,500 goal in mind. Ingles’ teammate Donovan Mitchell even shared it via social media with the Twitter hashtag #Joe2Skills, while the Yahoo Sports staff has continued to promote it across the web. While most would be flattered, Ingles is different. “I don’t know who started it,” Ingles said. “I don’t know why they started it, they should’ve known the answer. I’m having some time off.”

A campaign definitely isn’t coming from Lopez. He made that clear in the visiting locker room at the Pepsi Center in Denver after connecting on a career-high 8 three-pointers Nov. 11 – the night he began to be called by the nickname “Splash Mountain.” The last time he campaigned for something was for a student government position in high school and he finished last. That was enough for him to decide he isn’t a very good politician or campaigner. “That would be pretty wild, it would be fun,” Lopez said of potentially being included in the contest. “I’m just going to go out and do what I do on the court and if it happens that would be great.”

Comparing Lopez’s numbers to those of shooters who participated in last year’s three-point contest, Lopez has more three-pointers than Bradley Beal, Tobias Harris and winner Devin Booker had at this point last season. His percentage (37.4) is also higher than what Beal and Eric Gordon had through 40 games. “Of course, I’d put my money on it, yeah,” said Tony Snell, who is Lopez’s shooting partner in post-practice three-point shooting games, when asked if Lopez deserved a spot in the competition. “That would put the icing on the cake, man.”
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August 23, 2019 | 5:11 am EDT Update
As he spoke and the speaker above cut in and out, Gilgeous-Alexander balanced between a player who knows he belongs and one who understands he has plenty to learn. “I am not Russell Westbrook,” Gilgeous-Alexander said with no malice. “I do not have the same name, same body type, stuff like that. So, I’m just going to try to be myself and be the best me and everything else will take care of itself. “I’m just a basketball player. Regardless of the situation, I’m going to continue to work hard and play my game. I know that eventually it will come out. I don’t worry about starting. I’m not worried about accolades or things like that. I just work hard, keep my head down and (stay) true to who I am.”
“We have a bunch of guys who don’t mind being the underdogs,” Walker told reporters. “We are hungry, and we are going to go out there to try and win a gold medal…I take pride in being a leader and guys looking to me and I’m here to set the tempo and bring my experience and energy.” Walker is arguably the best player on the team, so it’s no surprise that he’s a captain. Mitchell being named a captain isn’t a shock either, when you consider how he came in as a rookie and showed tremendous ability as a leader with the Jazz and has continued to build off that success.
Storyline: World Cup
Germany will play against Tunisia and Japan in Saitama near Tokyo on August 23rd and 24th respectively. On August 26, the squad will head to Shenzhen, China where the World Cup group phase will be played. The 13 players currently in Japan for the German NT are: Dennis Schroder, Maodo Lo, Ismet Akpinar, Isaac Bonga, Andreas Obst, Robin Benzing, Paul Zipser, Niels Giffey, Johannes Thiemann, Danilo Barthell, Maximilian Kleber, Daniel Theis, Johannes Voigtmann.
What’s your next move? Brett Yormark: I’m not going to announce it yet. I knew there was going to be an end to one chapter and the beginning of another. Ownership effectively told me last spring that (selling the majority share to Joe Tsai) was something they were contemplating. I extended my deal through December to provide oversight of the transaction. There was always a plan to leave with ownership. I’ve become very close to Mikhail Prokhorov and (board chairman) Dmitry Razumov. It would have been very tough for me to leave the company, knowing that ownership was going to stay on board. My goal is to announce where I’m heading in mid-September, assuming everything works out. I’m going to stay in sports and entertainment and look forward to build something and create value. It’s no different than what I did at NASCAR and BSE.