Houston Rockets v Miami Heat

David Stern, Alonzo Mourning, Mitch Richmond head 2014 Naismith Hall of Fame class

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What had been rumored for nearly a week became official on Monday:

Alonzo Mourning and Mitch Richmond have been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall’s selection committee made the formal announcement on Monday. They will join former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who had already been announced as directly elected to the Hall for his contributions to the game.

Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood and Kevin Johnson did not make the cut. Ugh.

Mourning was a seven-time All-Star and an NBA champion (2006 Heat) who held his own at both ends of the floor against some legendary centers of his era — Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. He was particularly known for his defense, twice being named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, also twice he finished in the top three in MVP voting. Mourning played 15 NBA seasons (11 in Miami) averaging 17 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Also remember he was an All-American at Georgetown.

Richmond was a shooter ahead of his time — in an era when the three ball was not as prevalent he was a sniper from deep. He also could put it on the floor and get to the rim, which is why he averaged 21 points a game or more for 10 consecutive seasons. He was part of the Warriors’ “Run TMC” years with Chris Mullin (already in the Hall of Fame) and Hardaway (who should be). Richmond went on to be a six-time NBA All-Star, won an NBA title (2002 Lakers) and an Olympic Gold Medal (1996).

Both of those guys are deserving. So is Hardaway, but that just leads to another discussion of why there needs to be a separate NBA Hall of Fame.

David Stern should be in any Hall — while he was a lightning rod of controversy he also left an indelible imprint on the NBA in his 30 years as commissioner. Stern understood marketing and was able to help sell the brands of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and others to raise the NBA’s status (and profits for team owners) to new heights. Putting him in the Hall was a given.

Others elected or directly voted in are:

Nolan Richardson. The famed “40 minutes of hell” coach of Arkansas who led that team to three Final Four trips and the 1994 NCAA title.

Gary Williams. He coached Maryland for 21 seasons, leading them to 11 NCAA Tournaments and the 2002 national championship.

Bob Leonard. “Slick” was the winningest coach in the history of the ABA, leading the Pacers to three ABA titles.

Nat Clifton. One of the first African Americans to sign in the NBA, he averaged 10 points a game over an eight year NBA career.

Sarunas Marciulionis. The Lithuanian was the first player from the Soviet Union to play in the NBA (back then Lithuania was still part of the Soviet Union). In his seven NBA seasons, Marciulionis averaged 12.8 points and 1.3 steals per game. He also had big numbers in Europe and the European Championships.

Guy Rogers. He was a four time NBA All-Star in the 1960s, and he also lifted Temple to the NCAA Final Four in the 1950s.

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: