Dream Team headlines Hall of Fame Nominations

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The 1992 Olympic Dream Team — Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley — was more than just the greatest collection of basketball talent ever on one team, they helped change the international game. That team set a level of excitement and legitimacy for the international game that inspired players world-wide. The fruits of that can be seen in all the international players blossoming in the NBA right now.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame nominations have been announced, and there are some breakaway layups — some sure things — on that list.

The Dream team is one. Also nominated is the gold medal winning 1960 USA men’s Olympic team which feature a couple of pretty good players in its own right in Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, and should make the cut.

Three players should be sure things. First is Karl Malone, if for no other reason than to get him give his induction speech in the third person. He also earned it on the court — 14 time All-Star, two-time MVP, second most points ever scored in a career. He’s a lock.

So should be Scottie Pippen, the six-time NBA champion and key cog in the dominant Bulls of the 1990s. Then there is Cynthia Cooper, who led the Houston Comets to four WNBA titles and was the best player in that league for much longer. Both locks.

One other nominee that should be a given — Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Not just for the success his team has had on the court (nine NBA titles since he bought the team in 1979) but for how he changed how the game is sold. He treated it like entertainment and he made the game an event. There were the Laker girls and Dancing Berry in the stands, rock music pumped through the arena and celebrities courtside. How he started marketing the Lakers changed how the NBA marketed itself.

And frankly, the rest of the nomination list are no slouches. Rounding out the North American players the list are: Dennis Johnson, Bernard King, Chris Mullin, and Jamaal Wilkes; and coaches Bob Hurley, Don Nelson and Tex Winter. From the women’s committee are: Harley Redin and the All-American Red Heads team. International nominations are: coach Vladimir Kondrashin and Brazilian Maciel “Ubiratan” Pereira. The veterans committee put forwarded two names: Richard Guerin and Gus Johnson.

It’s going to be a few months before we find out who gets in (April 5, to be exact). But you can be sure, as it always is with the Basketball Hall of Fame, that some sure things get overlooked and some “who’s that?” will get in.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: