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It’s official: Toronto to host 2016 NBA All-Star Game

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We told you this was coming last week but now NBA’s commissioner in waiting Adam Silver and the league have made it official:

Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.

The announcement came on the 20th anniversary of Toronto being awarded an NBA franchise.

“We are thrilled that Toronto is hosting our first NBA All-Star Game outside the United States,” Silver said in a released statement. “As the site of the first game ever in the NBA, Toronto is an ideal location for this global basketball celebration.”

This came together because of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (which owns the Raptors) CEO Tim Leiweke. He is connected and respected in the league office. Leiweke was the guy who helped get the Staples Center built in Los Angeles (when he worked for AEG) and brought two All-Star Games to Los Angeles. He thanked his predecessor Bryan Colangelo for planting the seed, but he got it across the finish line.

“This will be the first time we played the All-Star Game outside of the United States,” Leiweke said at the press conference, then he turned to address Silver. “We appreciate that you have a vision like we do of the greatness of basketball in Canada and if you look at where we are headed as an organization we are going to help take this sport in Canada… we are blessed the sport is growing like it is in Canada.”

The 2014 NBA All-Star Game will take place in New Orleans, then in 2015 the Knicks and Nets will share the event in New York City.

By 2016 the Raptors will have a new look — not a new name, something Leiweke said, but he added they were teaming with Drake to help give the team a makeover. It could use one.

The goal is to make the 2016 All-Star Game a celebration of Toronto, all of it, both Drake and Leiweke said.

It could use one on the court as well, that job falls to new GM Masai Ujiri. He has already rid the Raptors of the anchor contract and PR disaster that was Andrea Bargnani, which was a step. Now he has to put a team together that can win. No pressure, but you need an All-Star by 2016.

Watch it again: Epic dunk contest duel between Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon

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TORONTO — I am always hesitant to say a player/team/situation is one of the best of ever because the history of the NBA is filled with greats. We tend to overstate how good something current can be.  That said…

That was one of the best dunk contests ever.

Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on a show for the ages. Gordon had the best dunks of the night (in my opinion), but LaVine is consistently amazing, every dunk he does is flat out ridiculous.

Officially, LaVine won. In reality, we all won. Enjoy watching it one more time.

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.