Derek Fisher

Fisher says NBA players don’t want to follow in NFL’s footsteps

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Sometime very soon, the NFL is going to end its lockout and get back to work, the two sides agreeing on a salary system.

Derek Fisher, president of the NBA players union, is no fan of the NFL’s hard cap, non-gaurunteed contract system.

While the NBA owners are proposing a system that moves in that direction, Fisher told Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated the players would push back.

“It breaks my heart to see the way guys like LaDainian Tomlinson get dealt with in the NFL,” said Fisher of the former MVP who gained 914 yards for the Jets last season after he had been waived by the Chargers. “To see what he’d done for the San Diego Chargers and to get to that place where he was under a contract that’s already been signed. The Chargers were able to absorb value in income and potential profits from years of his services, and then at the drop of a hat, based on arbitrary thinking because he’s a certain age and he can’t produce at a certain level anymore, he’s gone. Out the door.”

Fisher made is comments prior to the lockout starting, but since then nothing has really changed. While there have been some mid-level staff meetings between the league and the players union, that can accomplish only so much. The big guns are not talking about the big issues yet.

Another thing the union has resisted doing is following the NFL players union down the path of decertification.

Agents and other union advisers have been urging Fisher and union executive director Billy Hunter to decertify in order to bring the NBA owners to court, much as the NFL has done. But the NBPA has believed that court actions could essentially end hopes of saving the 2011-12 season. Fisher and Hunter are still seeking the ultimate: a compromise with the owners in time to enable regular-season basketball to begin as scheduled Nov. 1 in Dallas.

So far, there is a lot of posturing, both sides making their case to the public and each other. Both sides need to start compromising soon. Games were missed in the 1999 season in part because the two sides didn’t get serious about negotiating until it was too late to reach a deal. It feels like that again. As Thomsen points out so well, both sides have ground to give.

The talks are frozen because neither side has been willing to hold itself accountable yet. Any educated fan would urge the players to move toward a system that rewards performers and punishes malingerers who sign long contracts only to wind up “stealing the money” (to turn a phrase that players use among themselves), and likewise that the deep and entertaining rosters of the champion Mavericks and Lakers should not be diminished in order to prop up the underachieving Timberwolves and Clippers. Yet the owners and players continue to blame each other for the NBA’s problems, without confessing to their own negative issues. Perhaps they will move toward compromise as they begin to run out of time in September.

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.