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Talking one-and-done with guys who did it

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Part of the NBA labor talks — the part they are going to get to after they figure out the money and system stuff that have taken 133 days and are still not solved — is discussing the NBA’s age limit.

The players are not huge fans. The owners are very committed and many would rather see it at two years before you can come to the NBA, not just one. More time in college means teams get a better idea who they are drafting (fewer mistakes, they’d like to think) and they like the process of colleges generating stars that people will then try to follow in the NBA.

But what do the guys that did it think about it?

ESPN the Magazine did a great article talking to all the one-and-done guys from the last few years to get their thoughts. Go read the whole thing. But here are a few highlights.

Derrick Rose (Bulls, Memphis): “The biggest adjustment was to the NBA lifestyle — paying bills, taking care of my family, the women coming at you. I’m just being honest. I was 19. I’m glad I had BJ [Armstrong] to prepare me for all that. On the court it was knowing all the play calls, knowing how to talk to your teammates, learning to play through your mistakes. I was lucky — I was allowed to do that. Other people who came out with me didn’t have the same opportunity and it took them a lot longer to get comfortable.”

DeAndre Jordan (Clippers, Texas A&M): “When I first got my apartment I was 19 and I just sat in there alone and was like ‘Who am I gonna hang out with?’ In college, the guys you hang out with are your age and they don’t really have anything to do after practice besides homework and just stay at the apartment, so I had to get used to staying at home by myself and picking up new hobbies. In the NBA, once practice is over everyone goes their separate ways because some people have families, some people have other issues going on, wives, girlfriends and things like that so you can’t hang out with them as much as you hang with your college buddies.”

B.J. Mullins (Thunder, Ohio State): Myself, growing up in homeless shelters and 15 different houses, 15 elementary/middle schools, if I see a kid that has a talent like that, I’ll tell him to go. If I see a rich, suburb kid, why does he have to go straight to the NBA if he already has money? Get your education, enjoy life.”

Kevin Love (Timberwolves, UCLA): “Like with all aspects of life, something that potential one-and-done players should definitely look out for is people in your life that are Yes Men. Ask yourself, who are the people that are challenging you? Who’s giving you a different perspective? Who is challenging you and making you think about the things that you do? Listen to those people. It makes you look at things differently. That’s only going to help your decision-making.”

DeMarcus Cousins (Kings, Kentucky): In a way, it’s good because a kid needs that college experience — to go through those changes and being closer to being an adult and learn that responsibility at the college level. At the same time, I don’t believe the rule should be put in place because it’s predicting somebody else’s life — you should be able to make your own path because you never know what that person’s situation may be at home or with their family.

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.