Carmelo Anthony Panda

Stephon Marbury doubts Amar’e or Melo could hack it in China

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It’s always a nice Saturday morning when Stephon Marbury is back on our pages. It’s comforting. Like the crazy old guy at the coffee shop who wants to talk to you about how aliens stole his shoes. The New York Post gave Marbury a ring to ask him whether it would work for Carmelo Anthony or Amar’e Stoudemire to play in China. The former Knick and Vaseline-eater was highly suspicious of whether they could deal with the culture shock. Not from living in China, but from playing for a team there:

Citing the tough travel and rigorous training methods, Marbury said he doesn’t see the stars going to China, where the Coney Islander has spent the past two seasons.

“I don’t think those guys will want to go through it,” said Marbury, who is training in Los Angeles. “China is not for everybody — a whole ‘nother world. I don’t think they’re going to go there, not the big-time guys. Maybe they’d come for a little bit, but if the season is cancelled for the year, I don’t think they’d want to stay. They’ll want to go home.

“I don’t think Carmelo Anthony is going to run like they want to run in practice,” Marbury added. “They want to run you to death. The first time I got there, they ran in practice for two straight hours. I said, ‘Is that what we have to do every practice?’ “

via Marbury: China not for Melo – NYPOST.com.

Marbury overlooks a key element here. When Marbury began playing in China, his stardom was already compromised. He’d already jumped the tracks. Melo and Amar’e are both in their primes with powerful agents behind them. A desire to play in China would lead to negotiations which would prevent them from having to participate in the same kind of rigorous practice or deal with the same kind of hardships as the rest of the players. It’s not fair, but it’s business. As much as that kind of approach is built into Chinese culture, the superstars have too much leverage to be denied pretty much whatever they want.

Basketball is popular enough in China to warrant players of this caliber having that pull. Marburym may have had a rough time in China, but then, Marbury had a rough time in the NBA. Things work out differently depending on your talent and how you structure things.

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.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. 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.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: