President Obama Honors Medal Of Freedom Recipients

Celtics to unveil statue honoring Bill Russell

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source: Getty ImagesThere have been an incredible number of great Boston Celtics in the history of the storied franchise, but legendary big man Bill Russell might have been the greatest of them all.

Russell’s career spanned 13 seasons in Boston, and 11 of those ended with NBA championships. He’s being honored with a statue to memorialize his contributions to the game, and it will be unveiled in a ceremony on November 1.

From the official release:

In 2011, President Barack Obama gave Bill Russell the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During the ceremony, President Obama said he hoped that Boston would build a statue of Russell, “I hope that one day in the streets of Boston, children will look up at a statue built not only to Bill Russell the player, but Bill Russell the man.” … The artwork represents Bill Russell the whole man, honoring him as an athlete, coach, human rights activist, ground breaker and mentor. The larger than life sculpture of Russell is on a low base in game action, poised with basketball in hand about to pass the ball to a teammate. He aims towards a low-standing, open stone engraved with Mr. Russell’s quote, “The most important measure of how good a game I’d played was how much better I’d made my teammates play.” As visitors step up on the open base, ready to catch the pass, they become a teammate, not only in the game of basketball, but in continued advocacy for human rights and mentorship programming. Ten granite blocks, surround Russell for a total of 11 elements representing Mr. Russell’s 11 championships with the Boston Celtics. Each plinth features a key word and a corresponding quotation to illuminate the myriad of accomplishments spanning Mr. Russell’s career both on and off the court. The artwork is inscribed in a field of brick and granite pavers that reflect the proportions of a court.

The unveiling will take place at City Hall Plaza, after a short ceremony that will begin at 2 p.m. local time. The rebuilding Celtics have their home opener later that night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.