Magic soap opera continues, they say no decision on Howard

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What’s the best name for the soap opera going on in Orlando right now: As the Magic Turn? The Bold and the Magic? The Days of our Magic?

I give up on the name, but I feel like every Magic story now should have melodramatic music playing in the background while you read it to help the soap opera quality of the thing. Anyway, we have two updates for you right now — Dwight Howard saying he didn’t fire Stan Van Gundy and the Magic saying they haven’t made a decision on Howard.

Howard is out in Beverly Hills rehabbing from back surgery — hey, if you could rehab from surgery in Beverly Hills you would — and when you’re a tall black man going for a walk in Beverly Hills you stand out. When you stand out TMZ descends on you and asks you questions about Van Gundy.

Orlando Magic superstar Dwight Howard says he had NOTHING to do with the team’s decision to fire head coach Stan Van Gundy … telling TMZ, “I hate to see anyone lose their job…”

“Me and Stan … we had our ups and downs … but for the most part we had one goal … to win a championship in Orlando, but we fell short.” When asked about speculation that he had a role in the decision to can Stan, Howard told us, “I’m glad [Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins] confirmed I had nothing to do with it.”

Nothing. Nope. They would have fired Van Gundy even if their star player with the ability to opt out had not basically said he couldn’t stand the coach’s style. Two totally separate things.

As for the second part of the soap opera, there was the report Thursday that the Magic will start shopping Howard before the draft. The Magic are saying they have not yet made a decision. From the Orlando Sentinel.

Two sources familiar with the Magic’s thinking said a report Thursday by the website Sheridanhoops.com that the team has decided to trade Howard is not true. However, Martins already has stated publicly that the franchise will not go into the 2012-13 season with uncertainty about Howard’s future, meaning that the team will trade Howard if he doesn’t sign an extension or provides no clarity on his plans this offseason.

Giving the new GM a chance to sell Howard on a vision for the future and listening to early offers for him are not mutually exclusive. It’s pretty simple — Howard is one of maybe 10 NBA players you can anchor a contender around and if you have one you try hard to keep him. But if he can’t be swayed to stay — and it looks that way — then you move his before the season because nobody wants the circus from last season to come back to town.

Utah’s Donovan Mitchell wins throwback Dunk Contest with Vince Carter tribute

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LOS ANGELES — The 2018 Dunk Contest went retro.

And it worked.

The throwbacks started with Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. going quick-change to pay tribute to his father, the 1984 winner of the Dunk Contest.

Nance later had the best dunk of the night, but it wasn’t enough in the face of Utah’s Donovan Mitchell‘s strong and consistent night highlight by his throwback dunk — donning a Vince Carter Toronto dinosaur jersey and doing VC’s famed 360 dunk — which got Mitchell the 48 points he needed to hold-off Nance and win the contest. It was over.

“Growing up I was a big dunker,” Mitchell said. “I wasn’t really much of a basketball player. I just dunked and played defense, and I watched a lot of Vince’s videos. I’ve been seeing what he’s been doing all year at his age, which is incredible.

“So I figured, you know, at my size if I was able to get it, it would be a great dunk and a way to finish it, you know. And actually, funny story is I haven’t made that dunk in like half a year. I tried it in practice the past two days and tried it this morning, didn’t make it. Tried it last night, didn’t make it… But to be able to make it was why I was so excited.”

Earlier in the night, Mitchell had done another tribute worn a Darrell Griffith jersey — Utah’s Dr. Dunkenstien, who went to Louisville like Mitchell — for an off-the-side-of-the-backboard jumping over Kevin Hart dunk.

“You know, just knowing your history, I think, is the biggest thing,” Mitchell said of the throwbacks. “Just understanding where this game originated, I guess the OGs of the game, I guess you would call it. But just understanding. Even if it’s just dunking. Whether it’s dunking in the NBA in general, Darrell Griffith, we went to the same school in college. I know Darrell very well. Both got drafted by the Jazz, and he was an incredible player. To be able to pay homage to him meant a lot to me.”

For my money, Nance had the dunk of the night, his first in the Finals, a double off-the-backboard throwdown that you had to see on replay to get (it wasn’t as evident in the building what he had done until it was re-shown on the big screen).

It was a fun contest all night long.

Mitchell (the leader in the Rookie of the Year race) started it off brilliantly — he brought out a second backboard, and did a self-alley-oop off one to the other.

Larry Nance Jr. did his tribute to his father with his first dunk, and on his second one came from behind the backboard, going around the world, and threw it down hard. That got him into the Finals.

Oladipo missed all three of his dunks in the first round, which almost doomed his night. He, however, did a dunk wearing the Black Panther mask for his second dunk, which impressed.

Mitchell said he wanted to beat Dennis Smith Jr. because the Mavericks’ point guard had beaten him in dunk contests for years. Smith had one monster dunk, when he went between the legs and threw it down hard and got the full 50. It just wasn’t enough to get Smith to the Finals.

Nance started off the final round by bringing out his father again to throw an alley-oop to a windmill. Mitchell responded with a self-alley-oop to a windmill that was flat-out wicked. That got Mitchell a 50-46 lead after one round of the Finals.

Then Mitchell went to Vince Carter and “it was over.”

Larry Nance Jr. throws alley-oop to himself, throws alley-oop to himself (video)

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LOS ANGELES — Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. immediately motioned for the replay to be shown of this dunk. It was necessary to properly appreciate it.

Best dunk of the night.

Donovan Mitchell won the dunk contest, though.

Larry Nance Jr. plays tribute to father — rock-the-cradle dunk in Suns uniform

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LOS ANGELES — Back in 1984, high-flying Larry Nance Sr. won the first NBA All-Star Dunk Contest with this set of dunks — most famously a rock-the-cradle move.

Larry Nance Jr. came into the 2018 Dunk Contest and went nostalgic — all the way back to the Suns’ throwback uniform and the same dunk.

That and a good second dunk got him into the Dunk Contest finals. In that round, Nance Sr. threw an alley-oop to his son for the windmill.

Donovan Mitchell throws alley-oop to himself – off second backboard (video)

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LOS ANGELES – Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell set a high standard with the first slam of the 2018 dunk contest.

Very creative. Very well-executed.

Looks like all that preparation paid off.