NBA All-Star dunk contest/3-point shootout live blog

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Final note to David Stern: This night only works if you have a couple athletic dunkers and a couple stars. You need Dwight. You need LeBron. You need the stars to make it work. Love Shannon and DeMar, need the star power. Especially in LA next year, where it is all about the stars.

Everyone else, thanks for hanging out.

10: 51 pm And the uninspiring winner is… Nate Robinson. He has the hat trick.

10:47 pm
Really DeMar, that was it? If you can’t leave from the free throw line, you can’t do that dunk. Already been done by MJ and the Dr., you’re measured against greatness with that dunk.

10:44 pm Nate with the power pass off the backboard dunk. That was nice, but may not be nice enough….

10:41 pm
Nate Robinson brings out the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders then does nothing in the dunk with them? That’s it, I want DeRozan now.

10:37 pm  Gallinari comes out and lobs to Nate for a nice one. Great tweet from football Rez Zone guy Andrew Siciliano: That was Gallinari’s most significant contribution to the Knicks since being drafted.

10:33 pm DeRozan wakes up the crowd with the dunk of the night: Weems with the pass off the side of the backboard, DeRozan trailing him grabs it midair and rams it home. Now that was a dunk contest dunk!

10:30 pm Kobe out to throw the ally-oop to Brown. And that was a quality dunk. But the scores not all that great. Can we see if Dwight Howard is in the house and draft him into this? Is it too late?

10:24 pm Nate with the best dunk of the first round — catch the bounce pass mid-air two hand roundhouse. He leads after round one. DeRozan second, then Wallace, Brown. Nobody blowing the doors off the place yet. Crowd loves Nate early. Everyone does. Except D’Antoni.

10:22 pm Brown missed a quality dunk, got cautious. Not how you win this thing. Wallace goes for the power reverse. Nobody has made their first dunk yet.

10:19 pm DeRozan with a nice first dunk, between the legs reverse. But unlike last night, had to do it twice to get it right.

10:12 pm For the record, I’ll take LetShannonDunk in this. But Wallace is close in my mind, although apparently nobody else thinks that.

10:07 pm Odd little note on Pierce: He’s the only Celtic not loathed in Los Angeles, despite the 2008 Finals. He grew up in Inglewood, not far from the Los Angeles Forum (home of the Showtime era Lakers) and still has a lot of friends in town.

10:05 pm
Paul Pierce gets hot, hits the money balls just like he tends to do at the end of games, wins it. He’s lovin’ it, a little more than we are all loving Daryl Dawkins jacket.

9:56 pm Any three point shooter with any ties to a D’Antoni team can’t hit a shot. Coincidence? Then defending champion Cook comes out cold. Pierce and Billups , the two guys moving the slowest of anyone in the competition, take on the rookie in the finals.

9:46 pm Don’t care if Steph Curry is a rookie, that is one of the sweetest strokes in the game right now.

9:41 pm
Wow, did Ray Allen give Paul Pierce three ball advice? He’s better than that.

9:30 pm Finally, something good, let’s get the three point contest going.

9:20 pm So Steve Nash is the most skilled player in the NBA. Yea, that’s a shocker.

9:14 pm From Atomsk: Kobe and KG sitting together; I say put them on the court, give each a
mic and have a trash talking contest.

9:12 pm Westbrook looked slow and inefficient. Williams looked slow but efficient. Westbrook did not listen to Coach Wooden: Be quick, don’t hurry. He should have hurried a little.

8:55 pm Anybody who watches Lakers games knows if you need the desperation half-courter at the buzzer, you need Jordan Farmar, not Pau Gasol. So Team Texas wins the Shooting Stars competition thanks to Dirk Nowitzki, the unofficial host for the weekend. Nice trophy, by the way. But really, where you going put that in the house.

8:47 pm Chis Webber, for the rest of the weekend and maybe beyond, is going to be hearing about how Nicole Powell is a better shooter than he is. And the ribbers will be right, as of today she is. Results don’t lie. Atlanta, been nice knowing you.

8:38 pm Wow Atlanta shooting stars, I’ve seen better shooting from the guys they pull out of the stand at NBA games for the chance to win a $500 at the local Indian casino.

8:31 pm For those of us watching at home on TNT, let us stop for a moment and pray together that the rodeo theme intro pieces are done for the night. I’ll light a candle in church tomorrow. Promise. Thanks God.

8:15 pm What better thing have you got to do on a Saturday night than watch the best dunkers in the world — or at least that would do the contest this year — and the 3-poing shootout as well? Exactly. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, you can make it up to your significant other then. Take them to a nice dinner out. No, the Olive Garden is not a nice dinner out, either. You can do better.

I’ll be watching that (and the shooting stars and the skills competition, where Derek Rose is out) and updating with commentary on the festivities throughout the night. Put your thoughts in the comments below (I may pull some of them up to the post). Also, follow along on Twitter.

Let’s have some fun.

Timberwolves new CEO knows exactly what he’s getting into

This 2016 image provided by the San Francisco 49ers shows Ethan Casson posed at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. In 1998, Casson called sports teams all over the country asking to get a foot in the door. The Minnesota Timberwolves answered, giving him an entry-level position. Almost 20 years later, Casson returns to the franchise as the team's new CEO hoping to help a team that has struggled on the business side almost as much as it has on the court. (Terrell Lloyd/The San Francisco 49ers via AP)
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) In the winter of 1998, Ethan Casson started calling professional franchise after professional franchise, begging them to get his foot in the door in any capacity.

One night, a human resources employee for the Minnesota Timberwolves picked up the phone and Casson talked his way into a meeting. He flew from the East Coast, met with several Timberwolves executives and, during the third quarter of a game against the Golden State Warriors, was offered an entry-level position on the business side of the operation at $24,000 per year.

“To think that what started as a cold call of me begging an HR person to let me come in and prove my worth 18 years later turned into me coming back as a CEO is amazing and certainly very special to me,” Casson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Casson had to sell his car and some other possessions to raise the money to pay for his move from Boston to the Twin Cities, but the leap of faith has paid off. Six years after he left the Timberwolves to climb the ladder with the San Francisco 49ers, he is returning as CEO to breathe new life into one of the NBA’s struggling operations.

Timberwolves President Chris Wright remembered the impression Casson left in those first face-to-face meetings.

“I told him we’re going to find a place for you in this franchise because you are exactly the type of person that we want build this franchise around,” Wright said.

Casson’s first stint with the Timberwolves lasted 11 years. He worked his way up to senior vice president of corporate partnerships and met his future wife here before leaving for the 49ers in 2010.

When he arrived in the Bay Area, the once-proud 49ers were in the midst of an eight-year playoff drought. Their revenue had dropped to near the bottom of the league and they were playing in an outdated stadium that couldn’t compete with the shiny new ones popping up around the league. He leaves after helping to secure a 20-year, $220 million naming rights deal with Levi’s for the new stadium and rebuilding the franchise’s business operations.

The Timberwolves have not made the playoffs since 2004, the longest active drought in the league. That futility has contributed significantly to plummeting revenue and a dwindling season ticket base.

“I’m not saying it’s apples to apples, but I certainly feel I’ve been on a six-year journey that involved a lot of similar themes,” Casson said. “And I’ll apply all of those lessons to this next phase of my career.”

Casson replaces Rob Moor, the longtime CEO who stepped aside to work more closely with Wolves owner Glen Taylor’s other business interests. At 42 years old, Casson is part of a youth movement coming into the organization. Taylor also brought in 41-year-old New York real estate mogul Meyer Orbach and 35-year-old Chinese entrepreneur John Jiang as minority owners, and he hopes the three of them help bring a new perspective and energy to the business side that mirrors the vibe youngsters Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine are bringing to the team.

“I was very aware and respectful that taking on this role wasn’t about coming in and fixing things that were broken,” Casson said. “I don’t look at opportunities like this as somethings not working. I look at it as an opportunity to reset and plot out a different course or a different version of a course that moves the business forward.”

The challenges are real. The Timberwolves’ competitive dormancy buried them in a crowded sports marketplace. Tickets have been hard to sell and the NFL’s Vikings, the NHL’s Wild and MLB’s Twins are competing for the corporate dollars.

“I’ve been here for a long time,” said Wright, who is entering his 25th season with the Wolves. “I’ve tried to do it what I consider the best way for the franchise given all of the different sort of environments we’ve found ourselves in over the last 12 years as we’ve not been making the playoffs. And I think Ethan is going to just bring a completely fresh, new look to all of that and lead us in the direction we need to be as a club in the 21st century.”

The Wolves have one of the most promising young cores in the league, a brand new practice facility in downtown Minneapolis and have begun renovations on the dusty Target Center.

“There’s a lot of momentum in and around the organization that made it very exciting for me as a fan and now as someone who is coming back as CEO,” he said. “That will come and go. The renovation will eventually be complete. The team will stabilize and be competitive. You still have to make sure the business model is sustainable and drivable. That’s what we’re going to be.”

Joel Embiid arm wrestled Justin Bieber in a club? Yup. There is video.

THERMAL, CA - APRIL 16:  Professional basketball player Joel Embiid attends the Levi's Brand and RE/DONE Levi's presents NEON CARNIVAL with Tequila Don Julio on April 16, 2016 in Thermal, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Tequila Don Julio)
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Joel Embiid is officially 7’0″ tall and 250 pounds, although when you see him in person now that number seems low, he looks thicker and stronger.

Justin Bieber is a 5’9″ waiflike person.

So of course, they arm wrestled at the club Hyde in Los Angeles. It went about as you’d expect. Here is some video, hat tip to Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie (arguably the best arm wrestler in the NBA media).

If you’re about to make an “at least Embiid didn’t get hurt” joke, be more creative.

Hopefully, we get to see what Embiid can do on the court this fall, where the competition will be a lot tougher than any Canadian pop star.

Larry Sanders asks in Twitter poll what team he should play for next season

Larry Sanders
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Larry Sanders is talking about getting back into the NBA. He walked away in 2015 to say he needed to deal with anxiety and depression, to find a balance in his life. Recently he told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders this:

“But I feel like I’m in a much better place right now and I’m equipped to be able to put myself in that situation again.”

But where? A lot of teams could use an athletic big who averaged 1.4 blocks per game over the five years he was in the NBA, although with the conservative nature of NBA front offices they will not want to take much risk (Golden State reportedly thought about it and decided not to offer him a contract).

Sanders decided to ask Twitter where he should go, putting Twitter’s poll feature to good use.

The question becomes, where is there mutual interest from any of these teams?

If Sanders and his agent can win a team over in an interview, the contract will be small and the number of guaranteed years is not exceeding one (if even that). From the perspective of an NBA team, Sanders has to prove himself again.

But never underestimate how many chances big men get in this league.

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball)

Warriors’ just re-signed Anderson Varejao leaves Brazil to have back examined in USA

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16: Anderson Varejao #18 of the Golden State Warriors warms up prior to Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Anderson Varejao was spending the past couple days helping his nation prepare to host the 2016 Olympics in less than two weeks, including carrying the Olympic flame.

#tochaolimpica #varejao #olimpiadas #rio2016 #brazil #sampacool 😍⚾⛳🎾⚽🏀🏁🏂🏆🏊🏇

A video posted by Marcus Bado (@marcusbado) on

But now he is on his way back to the United States to have his chronically bad back examined. Again. From Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group.

The Warriors re-signed Varejao on a one-year, veteran minimum contract where he will make $980,431. He is expected to back up Zaza Pachulia at the five spot, although his run would have been limited (which is good, he’s not terribly effective anymore).

A variety of injuries — back, Achilles, wrist — have meant the most games Varejao has played in a season since the 2010-11 season is 65. Last season that number was 53, the final 22 of it with the Warriors.

If Varejao can’t go or is limited, the Warriors may look around at other options. But the pickings are slim at this point.