Sears Shooting Stars Competition 2014

Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond reportedly elected to Hall of Fame

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The NBA doesn’t have a Hall of Fame, leaving the duty of honoring its all-time greats to the Basketball Hall of Fame – an organization hung up on honoring players and coaches (way too many coaches) based on accomplishments at lesser levels. Its processes are both screwed up and secretive (though maybe the former will get marginally better).

Advice: Never predict who will be enshrined, and don’t dwell on who should be enshrined. It doesn’t make sense and won’t make sense.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a few moments to honor those elected in what’s still a huge honor. Five former NBA players were finalists this year, and two were reportedly elected.

In:

Out:

Mourning’s career overlapped with a some of the NBA’s all-time great centers: Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. Mourning might not be in the same class as those four, but he was smaller (6-foot-10, 240 pounds) than them and still held his own, adding to the era’s remarkable pivots rather than falling short of the standard. With a bulldog attitude, Mourning dominated defensively, hit the glass hard and scored strongly inside.

He began his career with the Charlotte Hornets, but when he demanded a huge new contract, they traded him to the Miami Heat. Mourning became the Heat’s first star player, helping to make Miami a cool place to play and possibly laying the groundwork for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to sign there years later.

Multiple times, it appeared kidney disease would end Mourning’s career, and he even retired in 2003. But he retuned to the NBA, and in his second stint with the Heat, he won the 2006 championship as a role player.

Richmond was a pure and dependable scorer, ranking 12th all time with 10 seasons averaging at least 21 points per game. For a while, he and Reggie Miller vied for the title of No. 2 shooting guard in the world behind Michael Jordan.

As a long-range gunner, Richmond was ahead of his time. When Richmond retired, only Dale Ellis, Glen Rice and Reggie Miller had taken more 3-pointers (3,417) and made a higher percentage of them (38.8).

But Richmond never experienced much team-wide success, at least as a major contributor. He won just two playoff series his entire career, one each his rookie and third seasons as a Golden State Warrior. After that, he made the playoffs only once in seven seasons with the Sacramento Kings and never in three seasons with the Washington Wizards. In his final season, 2001-02, Richmond won a championship with the Lakers as a little-used reserved.

Hardaway, Johnson and Hayood could be elected in future seasons. Each had fine careers.

But with the Basketball Hall of Fame, who knows?

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: