Joe Lacob, Peter Guber

Why Mark Jackson as coach might work: Players love it

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From pundits to Warriors fans to other front offices around the league, there has been a lot of “Mark Jackson? Are you kidding me?” reactions to the hiring of the Warriors new coach.

And during Game 4 of the NBA finals tonight, when Jackson says something foolish — like in Game 3 when he suggested Dallas should stop letting Dwyane Wade shoot so many open jumpers and make one of the best penetrators in the league but the ball on the floor — you can bet twitter will light up with “that’s your coach, Warriors” comments.

But there has been one group very supportive of the hire: players. As Matt  Steinmetz of CSN Bay Area points out, that could be the masterstroke of this hire.

You want to know why Jackson is a better coach for the Warriors than Keith Smart in (team owner Joe) Lacob’s eyes? Because Lacob believes Jackson has a better chance to be a lure for players than Smart, plain and simple.

Say what you want about Jackson, he is someone who many NBA players respect — not just for playing 17 seasons in the league but because he has become a strong voice on basketball matters — because of the forum he has on ABC and ESPN.

During his tenure as NBA analyst, Jackson has formed countless relationships with players, and his hiring was embraced by a number of them, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Baron Davis, Dwyane Wade and others.

Steinmetz makes a good point — the Jackson hiring follows in the wake of hiring popular agent Bob Meyers to become the current assistant and future team general manager. Jerry West, the highly respected guy who is the NBA’s logo, is a consultant and part owner.

There’s a pattern there — guys players really respect. Guys who can help lure free agents to the Bay Area.

It’s an interesting strategy, but Lacob’s moves are clearly about players first. We’ll see how that works when it comes time for them to lure free agents.

Watch it again: Epic dunk contest duel between Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon

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TORONTO — I am always hesitant to say a player/team/situation is one of the best of ever because the history of the NBA is filled with greats. We tend to overstate how good something current can be.  That said…

That was one of the best dunk contests ever.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on a show for the ages. Gordon had the best dunks of the night (in my opinion), but LaVine is consistently amazing, every dunk he does is flat out ridiculous.

Officially, LaVine won. In reality, we all won. Enjoy watching it one more time.

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.