roy hibbert game 7

Roy Hibbert explains why he didn’t shake hands with Heat following Game 7 loss

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The Heat had closed out Game 7 against the Pacers long before the final buzzer had sounded, putting together a solid performance that had them leading by as many as 28 points in the fourth quarter before all was said and done.

Once it was over, most of the Pacers exchanged handshakes with the Heat players, in what’s been a common tradition following just about every playoff series.

Noticeably absent from the Indiana side were Roy Hibbert and David West, who each had their own reasons for not wanting to share in the festivities.

From Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

For West, it’s simple.

He’s old school. He’s like the players in the 1980’s. He doesn’t have time to be buddies with his opponent. That’s why West never shook hands with any Heat players during the 10 meetings this season.

For Hibbert, it was different.

He’s never played with any of the Heat players. He respects them, but it wasn’t the time to be crashing their party.

“I know some of our guys have played on teams with some of them, but I don’t know them personally,” Hibbert explained to The Star. “It was their moment because they won. I have tremendous respect for them, but I don’t know any of those guys personally and I didn’t want to interrupt their moment.”

Some people want to criticize Hibbert for this specifically, citing further evidence that he’s now some sort of NBA bad guy between this (non-) incident and his unfortunate remarks made in the press conference following Game 6.

But whether or not you believe Hibbert’s reasoning, this really is nothing to be upset about.

If this Pacers team had any type of meaningful multi-year playoff history with the Heat, and had been on the winning side of things in the past, it could be argued that skipping out on congratulating your opponent puts you squarely in the category of being a sore loser.

That’s not what this was, however.

The most famous example of bailing on the post-series handshake came in 1991, when Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls finally beat the Bad Boys era Detroit Pistons to earn a trip to their first NBA Finals. Isiah Thomas and the rest of the Pistons left the floor before the game was even over to avoid the public passing of the torch that so many were hoping to see, after Detroit had beaten Chicago in the playoffs in each of the previous three seasons.

Now, if the Pacers face the Heat again next season and are able to knock them off after losing to them in the playoffs two straight years, and if LeBron James and Dwyane Wade leave the floor without the customary exchange, then go ahead and label them as you will. But for all the reasons just mentioned, Hibbert isn’t deserving of any additional scorn.

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: