stars

If you’re a superstar on the move, do you aim for one shot or several?

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Kevin Garnett was the last NBA superstar to play the “trade me” game right. He made sure he didn’t pull the trigger too soon, managed to go to a big market, didn’t allow his team to get too much in return that would leave him short when he got there, and best of all, somehow managed to twist it into not being something he should be criticized for. KG got the best of all worlds. A title, the market, the respect, the whole shebang.

But he only has one ring, and while the window isn’t closed, it’s closing. They say that one ring is worth anything, but KG was also older and needed a sure shot. If you’re one of these younger players shopping for a new locale, are you looking for that kind of recipe? Or should you be aiming for a team best suited to contend for several years?

What brought this to mind was a quote from Jim Boeheim yesterday about Carmelo Anthony. When talking about where Boeheim thinks Melo should go, he shared this thought:

“I’d tell him to try to get the best chance to be good – whether that’s with young players, with draft picks or what kind of players that team can get together.”

It presents a much different concept from the Celtics, or even the Heat. Both of those teams attempted to simply put together three established veterans, then filled in the ranks with primarily old players. But Boeheim, even casually, is suggesting a new pattern. One that, oddly enough, the Nets are well positioned to make good on. They have young players, cap flexibility, and their draft picks in place for the future. They have a franchise center in Brook Lopez and a talented point guard. They’ve got a shooter in Anthony Morrow and other components. Oh, and they’re moving to Brooklyn.

But let’s move past the Nets. The central concept that we’re talking about is the idea that you have a better chance of winning multiple championships with a roster that is built around you, a great player, alongside talented pieces. Which is, you know, Oklahoma City pretty much. Except they managed to acquire their superstar using the draft. But that should be the target situation in this scenario.

The problem is that few players are willing to have that kind of vision. It’s hard to look at a team’s win-loss total being severely below .500 and say “That place has the best opportunity for me.” It takes faith in the management, and that’s the biggest X factor here. Not talked about as much in the formation of the Heat this season is Pat Riley and his ability to sell the vision he’s had. Of course, Riley selling three friends who are also All-Stars on playing with one another is much easier than telling a star to commit to unproven players an his ability to bring in talented assets. The first person that comes to mind is Kevin Pritchard, which is something to keep an eye on.

A superstar can load himself up with veterans and make a run at a title. But if his lofty goal is multiple championships, he needs to set himself up for the future. Those windows can close fast with injuries and age. It’s riskier to shoot for the future, but the payoff is greater. I wouldn’t expect many to be taking that way out regardless. Gold is too valuable.

 

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.