Blake Griffin

Dunk Contest preview: What’s with all the big guys?

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You know why Nate Robinson and Spud Webb won the dunk contest? Because we love to see the little guys who can get up. We mere mortals identify with guys who are not quite six foot jumping over Dwight Howard and throwing it down.

This year’s Saturday night Dunk Contest? Battle of the big guys. Blake Griffin and Serge Ibaka are 6’10”, JaVale McGee comes in at 7’0” even. The “little guy” this time around is 6’7” DeMar DeRozan.

It’s a little surreal,” McGee told PBT Friday. “I never thought I’d be in the dunk contest, especially being as tall as I am….

“I feel big guys can do the same thing little guys can do, it just looks easier, and maybe that’s why it’s lower scoring. But it’s just as hard for big guys, we’ve got more weight and a lot of stuff.”

Of course, the Dunk Contest might have gone the way of the Dodo if not for a big guy — Dwight Howard revived it with a combination of power and creativity a few years back. Maybe we are in for a show. Griffin gives us all hope.

Let’s break it down.

Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers): He’s the favorite, the viral video sensation that pretty much owns YouTube by now. (Well, him and cats that play the piano.) The guy is ferocious in game, running the break and pointing for the ally-oop. Not letting any mere mortal — say, Timofey Mozgov, for example — get in his way. He can dunk with either hand and leap of two feet or one. He’s got all the skills.

Here’s what we don’t know: How creative will he be? Shannon Brown is a great in-game dunker who fell flat last season when it came time to do staged dunks in an exhibition. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Griffin enjoys this kind of stage. If so, it could be one for the ages.

DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors): Do not sleep on this guy — he came in second last year in what was a disappointing contest. Did he learn anything from that? He has the athletic skills, and we do love the little guy (even if the little guy is 6’7”).

JaVale McGee (Washington Wizards): He has the leaping ability, the athleticism, the length to put on a show for the ages. He’s also not exactly know for focus. ESPN’s John Hollinger had the best line: “He could win this thing or he could pull up for a 17-foot jumper.”

Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder): He certainly can jump, but it’s usually to block shots. He doesn’t have the power or pure athleticism to outdo the others in this competition, his only hope is to go Carrot Top and become a prop dunker.

Thabo Sefolosha’s lawyer: White police officer targeted black Hawks forward

Thabo Sefolosha
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NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black.

Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8.

Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police.

A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.”

Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.


DeMar DeRozan says he hates talking about free agency, takes pride in Raptors longevity

DeMar DeRozan
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DeMar DeRozan has a $10,050,000 player option for 2016-17. Given the rapidly escalating salary cap, it’s a practical certainty DeRozan will opt out and get a major raise.

But he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:

“I hate that, honestly,” DeRozan said in a one-on-one interview. “I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing (in Toronto). A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me.

“Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.”

This sounds awfully similar to LaMarcus Aldridge, who stated his desire last year to become the great Trail Blazer ever and then signed with the Spurs this summer.

Things change, and the impracticality of an extension ensures DeRozan will hit free agency. I believe he’s devoted to the Raptors right now, but his loyalty might change in the next nine months – especially once he sees contract offers from other suitors.

Toronto’s interest in DeRozan might fluctuate, too. He’s a nice player, but the Raptors haven’t won a playoff series with him despite winning the division the last two years. Depending how this season goes, Masai Ujiri might want to rework the roster significantly next summer, and letting DeRozan walk could create major cap space.

I believe DeRozan wants to return to the Raptors, and I believe they want to keep him. But so much can change between now and when both sides must make that call.