Zach LaVine brings back Dunk Contest. At least for a night.

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NEW YORK — Zach LaVine made the Dunk Contest fun again.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the Timberwolves rookie brought the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest back. We thought that before only to see it fade away once again.

But at least for a night, LaVine brought the dunk contest back — it was must watch. It was thrilling. In part that was because he started out with a bang.

Next he did this.

Those two dunks had the crowd in Barclays Center on their feet and people referencing Vince Carter.

“I came up with (those dunks) in high school, I’ve been working on them since high school,” LaVine said after the game.

That he could do those dunks in high school is just frightening. But the rookie knew hot to play to the crowd.

“I just wanted to come out here, put a jolt through the crowd, get everybody out of their seats,” LaVine said.

He did that.

But it wasn’t just LaVine, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo had an insane first dunk as well.

Mason Plumlee had a couple nice dunks, but the Nets’ center laughed at the idea he had any home court advantage.

“Zach would have won this no matter where we held it,” Plumlee said.

There were high hopes for the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the Greek Freak may be one of those people who is a phenomenal in-game dunker who can’t really translate that to an exhibition setting.

LaVine not only one but brings hope for future dunk contests — he said he wants to do this again. Maybe defend his title in Toronto in 2016. The best quote of the night came when asked which one of those dunks was the one Andrew Wiggins tweeted about, saying it almost made him faint.

“That’s the funny thing, I didn’t do that one,” LaVine said. “I got some tricks in the bag still.”

If the Dunk Contest is going to continue to thrive, it needs more star power. LaVine said he would try to help with that by recruiting Wiggins to do it next year (and it’s not hard to picture the Canadian wanting to do it in his native land). Maybe other bigger names will want to challenge LaVine.

But LaVine brought the Dunk Contest back. At least for a night.

Vanessa Bryant suing helicopter company after crash that killed Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, Vanessa Bryant and Gianna Bryant
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Ever since Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant died in a helicopter crash last month, we’ve been seeking answers about what went wrong during the flight piloted by Ara Zobayan. After all, Kobe Bryant had made helicopter rides such a normal part of his life.

Now, Vanessa Bryant – Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother – is suing the company that operated the helicopter for wrongful death.

Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times:

The complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Island Express Helicopters and Island Express Holding Corp. alleged that pilot Ara Zobayan, who also died in the crash, failed “to use ordinary care in piloting the subject aircraft” and was “negligent.”

“Defendant Island Express Helicopters’ breach of its duty and negligence caused the injuries and damages complained of herein and Plaintiffs’ deceased, Kobe Bryant, was killed as a direct result of the negligent conduct of Zobayan for which Defendant Island Express Helicopters is vicariously liable in all respects,” the lawsuit said.

Report: Ben Simmons back injury “isn’t a day-to-day thing”

(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the back injury for Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons “isn’t a day-to-day thing”.

Simmons missed the Sixers first game following the All-Star break on Thursday. He then left Saturday’s game in Milwaukee after playing just 4:44.

Over the weekend, Philadelphia ruled Simmons out for Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks and said he would undergo further evaluation. Per Wojnarowski’s report, that evaluation is ongoing and a course of treatment is yet to be decided upon.

Expect Philadelphia to lean on Raul Neto, Alec Burks and Shake Milton as primary ballhandlers while Simmons is out. None possess the size and skill combination of Simmons, but all have had moments throughout their careers. Neto drew the start in place of Simmons on Thursday. Burks was acquired at the trade deadline to give the team much-needed bench depth. Milton has flashed at time in his second season, after beginning his NBA career on a Two-Way contract.

Philadelphia loses Simmons while in a battle with the Miami Heat for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The fifth-place 76ers are 1.5 games behind the Heat for the fourth seed, and two games ahead of the sixth-place Indiana Pacers.

Pacers: Jeremy Lamb suffers torn ACL, torn meniscus, fracture

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Kobe Bryant making two free throws after tearing his Achilles was one of the greatest moments of his legendary career.

On a day Bryant was honored, we learned Pacers guard Jeremy Lamb made a similarly gutsy pair of free throws during Indiana’s loss to the Raptors yesterday.

Pacers release:

During the second quarter of the Pacers game at Toronto on Sunday, Indiana Pacers forward Jeremy Lamb sustained a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, a torn lateral meniscus and a lateral femoral condylar fracture.

He will undergo surgery on a date to be determined. He will be out the remainder of the season. Any further updates will be provided after surgery.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamb misses all of next season. This is just a devastating set of calamities.

At least Lamb has a guaranteed $10.5 million salary each of the next two seasons.

Indiana (sixth place, 33-24) will have an even tougher time winning a playoff series now. The Pacers could challenge in the first round, but they’ll almost certainly be significant underdogs.

They have depth at shooting guard, for what that’s worth. Victor Oladipo just returned. Justin Holiday is a solid reserve. Finding his lane at point guard, Malcolm Brogdon can move off the ball when T.J. McConnell or Aaron Holiday plays point guard.

Michael Jordan braces for return of ‘Crying Jordan’ meme after Kobe Bryant eulogy (video)

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The NBA just held All-Star Weekend in Chicago, where Michael Jordan starred for years with the Bulls. Jordan wasn’t a visible part of the festivities, though. He just prefers to remain out of the spotlight.

Yet, Jordan spoke at Kobe Bryant’s memorial service today. That’s how important Bryant – whom Jordan described as a younger brother – was to Jordan.

Jordan even addressed the elephant in the room – that he was reproducing the “Crying Jordan” meme. Thank goodness for another laugh amid the tears.