Kevin McHale, Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett and Kevin McHale share an emotional embrace after Rockets beat Celtics (VIDEO)

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The show of support and respect from around the league for Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, who has returned to the team following an extended leave of absence after the passing of his daughter, has truly been amazing to see.

It shows that the brotherhood of those involved with the game runs much deeper than basketball, and while the tribute the Mavericks paid McHale in his first game back on the bench last week was certainly emotional, it was nothing compared to the scene that played out between him and Kevin Garnett after the Rockets took down the Celtics on Friday.

Garnett was drafted by the Timberwolves in 1995, a decision that was made by McHale as VP of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota franchise at the time. McHale was also the one who traded Garnett to the Celtics, and after 12 seasons together there, the bond between the two men that was formed remains strong to this day.

After Friday night’s contest, Garnett walked over and embraced McHale, and had words for his former GM that clearly resonated. As seen in the video clip above, the embrace lasted several seconds, and McHale appeared to reach the point of tears near the end of the interaction.

Just a really powerful moment to witness, and one that may or may not shed some light on Garnett the person being a lot more sensitive and reasonable than the one we’ve seen screaming expletives at his opponents on a nightly basis throughout his 18 NBA seasons.

The moment came as a result of the most awful of circumstances, but the fact that there are strong relationships that can provide a foundation for dealing with the tragedies of this world is reassuring to even the most cynical.

Sports act as a distraction from the struggles of our daily existence. Yet sometimes, a rare set of circumstances can create a snapshot in time that transcends the games we use to get away. The embrace between Garnett and McHale most certainly qualifies.

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: