Adam Silver

Report: NBA warned stars against participating in clinics in the Philippines

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It’s common for the NBA’s biggest stars to spend part of the offseason on promotional tours overseas, which are usually tied to contracts as shoe company endorsers.

But there are apparently rules in place as to exactly what types of basketball activities players can undertake while on these trips, and some that were scheduled to take place in Manila didn’t meet the league’s guidelines.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The National Basketball Association warned a touring group of its stars that they could face financial fines for participating in clinics in Manila, Philippines, that include short scrimmages and games of “H-O-R-S-E,” league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Several NBA stars, including Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Liillard, were scheduled to participate in promotional appearances in Manila this week, and the NBA has told its Players Association that the event organizers failed to gain league approval, sources said. …

The NBA warned against violations that included “some kind of exhibition of basketball skills,” including shooting games and dunk contests, an NBPA memo obtained by Yahoo Sports said.

In the memo, the Players Association informed player agents and players that the NBA “has taken the position that any such exhibition or competition is unallowable and is not approved for player participation under the [Collective Bargaining Agreement], regardless of whether it is incorporated into a ‘clinic’ or other ‘benign-sounding activity.’

The group of players who are in Manila also includes Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar Derozan, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Jennings.

It appears as though some of these players were set to take on the Philippines national team in some sort of exhibition, but the league, clearly protecting its investment, has decided to pull the plug.

If you’re wondering why so many NBA stars would agree to do something the league might frown upon, as always, money is the answer. Wojnarowski reports that some players were set to receive $150,000 to participate in the two-day event.

Some may see this as the NBA being overly-cautious, but I’m sure Shannon Brown wishes there were some stricter policies in place last summer before he experienced this minor bit of humiliation that could have resulted in a fairly serious injury.

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: