NBA All-Star Press Conferences and Media Availability 2014

Carmelo Anthony said his “first priority” is to remain a Knick, but he wants to see a plan

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NEW ORLEANS — Talk to Carmelo Anthony and it quickly becomes clear he loves being a Knick. He loves New York, he loves playing in Madison Square Garden, he loves Spike Lee, he loves everything about the experience.

He also wants to win an NBA title.

Are those two things compatible?

Anthony is asking himself that because he can and will opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent. That fact combined with the Knicks ugly 20-32 record — a record compiled a roster that will likely look very similar next season — makes the Knicks front office and a lot of fans concerned he could bolt for Chicago or some other destination.

However, Anthony sounds like a guy giving the Knicks the benefit of the doubt. He doesn’t want to go. He just wants to see a real plan in place.

“At the end of the day that’s my first priority, to stay,” Anthony said while meeting with the media in New Orleans Friday. “That’s my first priority. My priority is to figure it out, let’s figure it out together…

“My priority is not to just because I say I want to be a free agent, is to go leave. I never was a guy that comes into a situation and basically when it’s not going well to leave like that. That’s not my personality.”

Along those lines, Anthony shot down the idea he asked for a trade, nor has the team talked to him about one.

“That conversation never even came up…” Anthony said. “I don’t want to be traded. I just don’t want to be traded. I came to New York, and I said it before, I wanted to retire a Knick. That’s not something I would bull—- with, I said it, I meant it. That’s how I feel.”

Does he still feel that way despite this season?

“I still feel strongly about that,” Anthony said. “That’s why at the end of the season everything needs to be laid out on the table. From both parties. If that’s something we can grow with, we can build on, we can compete with at the highest level, then we’re rolling. If that’s not the plan that they have, then we got to talk about something else.

It seems odd that there has not been some discussion of the long-term plans with Anthony already.

That plan is likely going to be a 2015 and 2016 plan — the summer of 2015 is when Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Andrea Bargnani all come off the books and the Knicks will have cap room to go after free agents. There have been reports Kevin Love is a target, but if he leaves Minnesota the Lakers and 28 other teams also will target Love. If not him there are a host of quality players potentially the market in those years (LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant to name a couple). The Knicks are going to have to recruit that level of talent, hope Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert develop (or can be flipped for good young players) find a system they all fit in.

Anthony sounds like a guy who wants to believe all the puzzle pieces will fit together and things are going to get better in New York. If he sees an aggressive plan he views as realistic, look for him to sign on to stay the face of the Knicks. That is his priority.

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: