LeBron basically shrugs, ignores Magic’s Slam Dunk offer

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Magic Johnson’s offer of $1 million to LeBron James to do the 2014 All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest was a blatant publicity stunt.

First, if you were serious Magic you would have made the donation to his charity, LeBron needs another $1 million in his pocket about as much as Magic does. Second, you think Magic is the first one here? LeBron has had sponsors approach him with fantastical offers to do the dunk contest before, he still has chosen to sit it out.

What was LeBron’s response to Magic’s offer? Pretty much a shrug, reports Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

“Right now, I don’t know,” he said. “It doesn’t really stand anywhere. Right now, I’m so focused on what we’re doing as a team….

“Shoot, All-Star weekend is how far away?” he said of next February’s showcase in New Orleans. “So I’m really not thinking about right now. It was entertaining to hear him say that, though.”

What was he going to say?

LeBron will not do the dunk contest. He doesn’t want to and at this point he sees this as a no-win situation (win and he was supposed to, lose and he gets another round of “he’s no Jordan” talk). It’s not going to happen.

This whole dunk contest “controversy” is a Rorschach test of how you feel about LeBron — you see what you want to see. If you don’t like him and want to see him fail, not winning the dunk contest becomes important to you. If you are a LeBron backer you shrug at the contest and winning it pretty much like LeBron does.

When LeBron steps away from the game one day, the dunk contest will have no impact on his legacy. Rings will be number one now, followed by his level of play through the peak of his career (going on now, the question is for how long). That’s it.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.

DeMarcus Cousins barrels in for powerful putback dunk over Bucks (video)

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When DeMarcus Cousins builds up a head of steam like this… poor John Henson (and kind of Khris Middleton).

This helped the Pelicans pull away for a 115-108 win over the Bucks last night.

Enraged Jason Smith restrained from Mario Chalmers (video)

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During the Wizards’ win over the Grizzlies last night, Mario Chalmers tried to stop Jason Smith from shooting after Smith had been called for travelling. It’s a fairly common tactic, one pioneered by Kevin Garnett. Players don’t want their opponents to gain confidence by seeing the ball go through the net, even after play stops.

But Chalmers held onto Smith’s arm, and Smith took umbrage.

NBC Sports Washington:

I think it’s more likely, after halting Smith’s shot, Chalmers was trying to hold up Smith rather than yank him down. But I can’t know Chalmers’ intentions, and holding up a falling person by his arm isn’t very effective.

The double technical foul called seems about fair.