Victor Oladipo shares joyous draft night with father

12 Comments

NEW YORK – Victor Oladipo’s incredible rise, from a high school backup to the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft, has come with a complicated relationship with his father in the backdrop.

Tonight, the father – who rarely, if at all, attended his son’s DeMatha High School games – came to the forefront.

“I tried to bring the whole DMV with me,” Oladipo said. “I got my sisters, my mom, my agent. And my father actually came today, which means a lot to me, as well. It was hard for him definitely to come to a lot of my games, but for him to be here tonight is an amazing feeling.”

Oladipo spoke about how his family once viewed his basketball playing as merely a hobby.

“I don’t even know if my family still knows what’s going on,” Oladipo said. “I know they’re happy. I know they’re happy for me.”

DeMatha basketball coach Mike Jones has always maintained Victor and Chris Oladipo share a loving relationship, but any outsider can see it sometimes shows in strange ways. Jones has been close to Oladipo – “the whole ‘earned, not given,’ he is the epitome of that,” Jones said – and spent the last 48 hours with the former Indiana star.

“I was joking earlier, I kind of felt like I got drafted too, ” Jones said.

It’s the type of joy Oladipo has shared with not only his immediate family, but his extended family like Jones and former Indiana teammate Cody Zeller, who was drafted by the Bobcats with the No. 4 pick, much higher than many expected.

“I’m not surprised he got picked where he got picked,” Oladipo said. “I was cheering just as loud as everybody else.”

On a night most draft picks look like they’ve reached a lifelong goal (because that’s usually the case), Oladipo carried himself with an extra outward happiness.

Jones, who learned Oladipo had a hidden talent the night of his senior-year banquet at DeMatha, thought Oladipo would even display it during his televised interview immediately after the Magic picked him.

“I totally thought he was going to break out into song,” Jones said. “And he would have had this whole place rocking  had he done that.”

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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)

Leave a comment

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

Associated Press
1 Comment

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)

Leave a comment

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.