Orlando Magic v New York Knicks

Everyone denies report Dwight Howard called team owner about Van Gundy

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Let us start with a good reminder for reading a lot of stories in today’s journalism world — every anonymous source has a motive. If someone “leaks” something to a reporter its because they are trying to spin the story for their own motives.

With that, we bring you the updated report from Orlando’s WKMG’s 6 Sports Director David Pingalore — this is the same guy who broke the story Dwight Howard wanted coach Stan Van Gundy fired and earlier this week reported Howard would not be back for the playoffs. Now he takes everything a step farther.

Pingalore was told through sources that have direct knowledge of the call that it was taken in the DeVos suite at Amway Center by DeVos sometime during the Magic’s game with the Atlanta Hawks.

According to the sources, Howard is still upset with Van Gundy, confirming Pingalore’s report from earlier this month that Howard went to Magic management asking for Van Gundy to be fired. Sources confirm the call to DeVos came after Howard visited Los Angeles to get diagnosed for his sore back.

Not long after that report came out, denials started raining down like Ryan Anderson corner threes.

First came this from ESPN:

But multiple league sources directly affiliated with the Magic and Howard disputed the television report to ESPN.com’s Michael Wallace.

“It’s a completely made up, B.S. story,” one of Howard’s representatives told ESPN.com.

Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated sent this out on Sulia:

Regarding report that Dwight Howard told Orlando owner Rich DeVos he wouldn’t play for coach Stan Van Gundy, a source close to the situation says it’s not accurate. It speaks volumes that people are ready to believe it, though. Dwight’s PR is a nightmare these days.

The Orlando Sentinel talked to Stan Van Gundy about it.

Of the WKMG-TV report, Van Gundy told the Sentinel Thursday afternoon in a text message, “I make nothing of them and I have no comment.”

My thought — look, Howard doesn’t like playing for SVG. Apparently nobody does. We get it. But with his good image taking a hit, if Howard’s back let him out on the court for the playoffs he would be out there. I don’t think he’s doing it to sabotage the coach — Van Gundy is gone when the season is over anyway. This is the NBA, a superstar player always wins the power struggle with the coach because that level of player is hard to come by. Howard knows he’s won the war, he’d go out and fight another battle if he could.

But that doesn’t mean people around all the participants don’t have their reasons to spin the story.

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: