Tacko Fall

Trae Young
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Trae Young sums up mood of a lot of NBA players: ‘Bored’

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Like a lot of people, NBA players are now stuck at home without much to do.

Traditionally, this time of year the combination of games, practices, travel, and treatment keeps players busy. Now, they are stuck at home as part of the nation’s social distancing efforts, and Trae Young summed up the mood of players well.

Tacko Fall is bored too, but that has led to the best social media post of the last 48 hours.

LeBron James is looking for drinking partners, and other players are finding ways to pass the time.

Everyone just wants the games to start up again, and to get back to talking a little trash.

Three Things to Know from All-Star weekend: The new format worked, the dunk judging did not

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CHICAGO — Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, or, in this case, every weekend. Here are three things to know out of All-Star weekend. (After today, three things will be off this week until games return.)

1) Team LeBron got the All-Star Game victory, but the real winner was the new format. For the past few years (maybe going on a decade), the actual NBA All-Star Game was a bland product. A dud. Players wanted to avoid injury, and there was very little real effort or competition (maybe in the final minutes). It was unwatchable. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s office was looking for a way to change that dynamic.

The found it. The format changes experimented with this year — starting each quarter at 0-0 with money for charities on the line, then the target point ending — were the biggest winners of the 2020 All-Star Game.

“It was dope,” Jimmy Butler said. “Damn sure got to compete at the end. It’s still fun to go out there and be known as one of the best players in the world in this league. Hopefully, it stays like that.”

In the fourth quarter, the very best players in the world were going at each other hard. Joel Embiid tried to take a charge. Kyle Lowry did take a charge on Kawhi Leonard. Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry were barking at the officials over calls. Coaches were calling for reviews.

Giannis Antetokounmpo blocked LeBron. Twice.

And it was close. Under the new Elam system the final point target was 157, and this game was tied as late as 152-152. In the end, it became next basket wins — and Davis got that basket… a free throw. That was a little disappointing.

Kawhi Leonard, who finished the night with 30 points, shooting 8-of-14 from three, walked off with the just-named Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award.

This was the best All-Star game in recent memory. You can bet the format will be back next year in Indianapolis.

2) Aaron Gordon got robbed at the dunk contest. Again. The last great dunk contest took place in 2016, when Gordon controversially lost in a dunk-off to Zach LaVine.

This Saturday was another epic contest, another dunk-off, — and Gordon lost again, this time despite dunking over 7’5″ Tacko Fall for the final dunk of the night.

“Jumping over somebody 7’5″ [note: without shoes] and dunking is no easy feat,” Gordon said, stating the obvious. “What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?”

That is correct, Gordon got a 47 out of 50 for that dunk and the crowd in the United Center was not happy with the judges. The judges, for their part, apparently were conspiring to send the dunk-off to a third round but screwed it up (Dwyane Wade favoring his Heat player?).

My thoughts on this Dunk Contest are a bit nuanced, and I don’t have an issue with Derrick Jones Jr. winning. If, after the four scheduled dunks, you asked me to pick a winner, I would have gone with Jones. Yes, I realize Gordon got four 50s on those dunks, a perfect score, but I think he got some of that on reputation and Jones was better.

However, there is no way the dunk over Fall was a 47. That should have broken the tie and given Gordon the win. He was robbed on that dunk.

At least we got a great show.

3) It was a weekend of Kobe Bryant tributes. Memories of Kobe and his legacy seemed to be everywhere all weekend. Players were talking about him, and pictures of him were everywhere around the city.

The biggest honor is that the All-Star Game MVP is now named after him.

Then at Sunday’s All-Star game, Magic Johnson with words and Jennifer Hudson in song gave a beautiful tribute to Kobe.

As it did with the new rules and everything all weekend long — except maybe the dunk contest judging — the NBA got it right.

Aaron Gordon dunks over 7’5″ Tacko Fall, somehow still robbed of Dunk Contest win

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CHICAGO — Aaron Gordon cannot catch a break in an All-Star Dunk Contest dunk-off.

In the best Dunk Contest since 2016 — when Gordon controversially lost in a dunk-off to Zach LaVine — Gordon lost another dunk-off, this time despite dunking over 7’5″ Tacko Fall for the final dunk of the night.

“Jumping over somebody 7’5″ [note: without shoes] and dunking is no easy feat,” Gordon said, stating the obvious. “What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?”

Yes, Gordon got a 47 out of 50 for that dunk and the crowd in the United Center was not happy with the judges, but that was a theme for the night. The judges, for their part, apparently were conspiring to send the dunk-off to a third round but screwed it up.

 

Gordon, who now has lost three Dunk Contests, two in dunk-offs, leaves the peoples’ champ but he is not coming back.

“It’s a wrap, bro. It’s a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies,” Gordon said when asked if he would do another Dunk Contest.

Gordon should have gotten a 50 and won on that last dunk, but make no mistake, Derrick Jones Jr. earned the win — most of the night his dunks were cleaner and, to my eyes, right there with Gordon’s.

Jones — who turned 23 on Saturday — started the final round by leaping over two people and taking the ball between the legs.

Then went off the side of the backboard, between the legs and threw it down.

Jones was ready for the extra dunks.

“I got a whole lot in my arsenal,” Jones said of the couple extra dunks. “I knew every dunk that I was going to do even if it went to overtime. I planned this.”

This was a great dunk contest because it wasn’t just the two finalists who were throwing down epic dunks.

One of the most entertaining dunks of the night came from the Bucks’ Pat Connaughton — the white guy in the contest leaned into it and went with the White Men Can’t Jump dunk. He did it over the Brewers Christian Yelich, but somehow only got a 45.

Connaughton won the crowd over again with his second dunk, taking the ball from Giannis Antetokounmpo, tapping backboard, and then dunking. That got him a deserved 50.

Dwight Howard broke out the Superman dunk again, but this time as a tribute to Kobe.

The NBA history books will record this as a Derrick Jones Jr. win. But everyone who watched this contest knows who won.

Tacko Fall on Aaron Gordon dunk: ‘I was scared for my life’ (video)

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CHICAGO – Dunk-contest participants generally prepare four dunks – two for the first round and, if advancing, two for the second round. Aaron Gordon knows better. He lost to Zach LaVine in an epic dunk-off when they tied in the second round in 2016.

But Gordon ran out of even-somewhat-planned dunks in his dunk-off with eventual champion Derrick Jones Jr. on Saturday. So, the Magic forward went looking for someone to dunk over.

He found 7-foot-5 fan favorite Tacko Fall.

Gordon grabbed the ball off the back of Fall’s neck and slammed, though not cleanly clearing the Celtic rookie’s head.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

It showed.

Seven biggest All-Star Game snubs: Beal calls it ‘disrespectful;’ Suns GM backs Booker

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There are just 24 NBA All-Star Game roster spots. Ten of those are voted on by the fans as starters (with the media and players in the mix just to prevent the Alex Caruso/Tacko Fall show).

That leaves 14 reserves, seven from each conference, voted on by the coaches. That list came out Thursday.

Inevitably there will be legitimate snubs, players who had the stats but not the votes (plus some players and fan bases who think they were snubbed but really were just not good enough). Here is our list of the seven biggest snubs from this year’s All-Star Game.

Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns). Suns GM James Jones wasted no time backing his guy in a statement after the snub, “I’ve played with and against multiple All-Stars in this league and Devin Booker is undoubtedly an NBA All-Star.”

Booker is averaging 27.1 points and 6.4 assists per game, the sharpshooter is hitting 36.8 percent from three and has an incredibly efficient 63.4 true shooting percentage. His poor defense (improved this season, but not good) and the Suns’ record hurt him (but the Suns have a better record than the Pelicans, and Ingram is in, so…).

Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards). The two-time All-Star is doing everything for the Wizards this season, averaging 28.6 points and 6.3 assists per game (although his three-point percentage has dipped to 31.4 percent as defenses have been able to focus on him. An emotional Beal called getting passed over for the ASG (for a second straight season) “disrespectful.”

Beal’s agent also had words.

Paul George (L.A. Clippers). The six-time All-Star has played well enough to get back to the big stage, averaging 23.5 points per game, shooting 39.5 percent from three, and grabbing six rebounds a game. This snub was likely the coaches thinking he hadn’t played enough games (26, missing time at the start of the season as he recovered from shoulder surgery.

Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets). The six-time All-Star has put up numbers — 26.8 points and 6.6 assists per game — and looked like an All-Star when he’s played. However, due to his shoulder issues, Irving has played in just 18 games this season. That was not enough to win over the coaches.

Malcolm Brogdon (Indiana Pacers). The former Rookie of the Year has had to carry a heavy load for the  Pacers with Victor Oladipo out (until this week). He’s averaging 17 points and 7.4 assists per game. His teammate, Domantis Sabonis, made it and the voters may have stopped at one.

Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves). When Towns has played this season, he has been a flat-out beast on offense: 26.9 points per game, taking 8.3 threes per game and hitting 41 percent of them, plus 10.7 rebounds a game. He’s improved on defense as well (not that he’s consistent, but there are moments). The problems are injuries limiting him to 30 games, and the fact the Timberwolves had lost 10 in a row as coaches were voting.

Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics). You can make a good case Brown has been more valuable to Boston this season than Jayson Tatum, who will be playing in the All-Star Game. Brown is averaging 20.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, plus he brings the defense. Tatum’s graceful athleticism, and strong season in his own right, won the day.

• Honorable mention, Zach LaVine. They were pushing for him in Chicago, and he is averaging 25.1 points per game, shooting 38 percent from three. However, with the Bulls struggling, those felt like empty-calorie numbers to voters, plus LaVine is not exactly a defensive force. He may be competing in other events through the weekend.