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Kobe Bryant a no-show to All-Star media availability

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The 2012 NBA All-Stars had their first mass media availability session of the weekend on Friday, and everyone who was named to the team managed to show up and tolerate the wide-ranging and sometimes-inane questions from both traditional and non-traditional media outlets.

Everyone, that is, except Kobe Bryant.

Bryant was a no-show to the festivities, which was a disappointment to the 50-75 media members who had camped out at his table since the beginning of the Western Conference’s scheduled time, and stayed all the way up until the very end. About two minutes before it was all over, an NBA spokesman informed those waiting that Bryant was “ill” and would not be in attendance.

The delay in notifying the waiting masses of Kobe’s absence was supposedly due to the fact that Bryant was unreachable until that time, the spokesman said.

Bryant has been what you might call “fashionably late” to the past couple of these sessions that I’ve covered, regularly rolling in 10-20 minutes after the event’s scheduled start time. It’s tough to blame him, as many of the questions are either soaked in silliness, or are simply requests for shout-outs to fans living in faraway foreign lands.

There’s also the fact that all is not great in Laker-land right now, beginning with Bryant’s rant less than a week ago that the organization make a decision on whether or not to trade Pau Gasol, and, most recently, the Lakers loss in Oklahoma City last night that had Bryant and James Harden jawing for an extended period near the game’s end.

It’s fine, and honestly, completely understandable for Bryant not to want to show up to this circus, especially with everything swirling around the Lakers at this point in the season. If he is indeed ill, then hey — we wish him a speedy recovery. It just would have been nice to have a little more than a two-minute head’s up.

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: