Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair, Gregg Popovich

Why don’t more stars want to be like Tim Duncan?

57 Comments

In Saturday’s New York Times, Harvey Araton has a piece on Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, comrades in court action, and how different they stand from the modern generation of market-chasing, self-aggrandizing drama queens that currently permeate the landscape. Let’s start here: I’m an NBA modernist. I don’t go for the “back in my day…” crap because there have always been egomaniacs, there will always be egomaniacs at this level of professional sports, and in reality, it’s most often a good thing. But Duncan and Popovich stand as something completely different and offer an alternative way to handle yourselves.

Imagine a superstar who doesn’t undermine his coach, doesn’t balk at touches or direction and doesn’t chafe at the idea of discipline. Then imagine that player has enjoyed 13 years of NBA title contention. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? From the NY Times:

“Unlike some other guys, I’ve been lucky,” he said. “With the teams we’ve had, with the focus of the people here wanting to put winning teams together, of having a system and sticking to it. There’s no better way to do it. It’s a special situation, obviously, and everybody can’t have it.

“In other places, coaches come in and out, and there are guys who have four or five in the same amount of years, and that’s a situation I can see why you’d want to get out of. But people changing for size of market? That I really don’t understand.”

When Duncan was asked if any of the young N.B.A. power brokers — for instance, Dwight Howard, who reportedly went backdoor in an attempt to oust Coach Stan Van Gundy in Orlando while refusing to commit to the franchise beyond next season — had ever sought his counsel on the benefits of laying deep roots, he shook his head and said, simply, “Nope.”

Told of the exchange, R. C. Buford, the Spurs’ general manager, laughed and said, “Very few people can have a conversation with Tim that would last long enough for them to get that much out of it.”

via In San Antonio, Duncan and Popovich Work Well Together – NYTimes.com.

Don’t talk. Don’t say anything. Just do your job and win titles.

Now, we may be on the verge of seeing a return of this mindset. Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, these guys are the new model of appropriate action. John Wall, were he to be put in the position to succeed, certainly seems the type. But for players that talk so much about winning and then do things like request trades to the Nets, maybe looking at the greatest power forward of all time might give you an idea that you don’t have to act like Jordan and Kobe to succeed. There is a way to win with dignity in this league.

But maybe the money really just is that important.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

4 Comments

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

9 Comments

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

2 Comments

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.
1 Comment

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: