New Jersey Nets owner Lewis Katz hoist the Trophy

Former Nets’ owner Lewis Katz dies in plane crash

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Lewis Katz, the owner of the New Jersey Nets during the Jason Kidd era when the team went to two consecutive NBA Finals, has died in a plane crash in Massachusetts.

Katz was best known recently as the owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News and philly.com — earlier this week he and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest had spent $88 million to buy out their other partners in the media companies and take full control of the papers and online entities.

The Inquirer had details of the death.

All seven people were killed aboard the private aircraft that crashed at Hanscom Field and erupted into a fireball, authorities said Sunday.

The Gulfstream IV crashed about 9:40 p.m. Saturday as it was departing for Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, said Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the air field.

Katz grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and went to Temple University in Philadelphia. He made most of his money first investing in the large Kinney Parking empire then investing in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES Network) in New York, which to this day still carries the Nets games.

Katz bought the Nets in 1998 for what is believed to be $150 million and he owned the team for six seasons — but those were the best six seasons in Nets history. Well, it didn’t start out that way, the first year he owned the team the Nets won 16 games (in the strike-shortened 50 game season) and fired John Calipari after a 3-17 start. That Nets team was led by a young Stephon Marbury and Keith Van Horn. With much the same roster they won 34 then 26 games the next two seasons.

But then came Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and 52 wins and a trip to the Finals. The Nets equaled that the next season — but in both finals they ran into the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant Lakers.

In 2004, Katz sold the Nets to Bruce Rattner — the man with the dream and plan to move the team to Brooklyn — for $300 million.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Katz.

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.