NBA Rumor: All-Star Contests

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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.’’

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Obi Toppin earns NBA slam dunk title

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.”

Karl-Anthony Towns wins three-point contest with record score of 29

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.”

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.”

Evan Mobley half-court shot wins skills challenge

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

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

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.”

Antetokounmpo brothers to team up in the Skills Challenge

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.

Jalen Green, Cole Anthony, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Obi Toppin in Slam Dunk Contest


Seth Curry wants to take part in three-point shooting contest

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.”

“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.”

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.”
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