Tag:2012 All-Star Weekend
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:16 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 1:27 am
 

Dunk Contest Report Card: Bottom heavy

Posted by Royce Young

Jeremy Evans basically won the dunk contest with one dunk.

ORLANDO -- You know things didn't go all that well for the Dunk Contest when it was up for discussion if the Three-Point Contest was more exciting.

It started painfully slow with highly orchestrated dunks and then picked up a little momentum in the second round of dunks. But then fizzled at the end with a dead arena throwing a smattering of boos out when Jeremy Evans had his name called as the winner.

It was left up to a fan vote this season and more than three million cast their votes, and Evans gathered 29 percent. After it finished, some were looking for a fifth option: "E, none of the above." But still, let's grade it out.

Jeremy Evans' double oop Easily the dunk of the night. With Gordon Hayward sitting on a stool, he threw two basketballs up for Evans to dunk -- over the top of him. He missed the first attempt, which was to be expected with that degree of difficulty. It had the looks of the kind of dunk he'd miss five or six times and then give up on, but Evans nailed it on his second attempt, soaring over Hayward. It was good enough that despite two other fairly meh dunks, Evans won the contest.
Derrick Williams off-the-side-of-the-backboard It's been done before, but with Ricky Rubio assisting, Williams pulled off a finish with an extremely high degree of difficulty. Rubio tossed the ball off the side of the backboard and Williams pulled an inverted 360. It was impressive mostly because it looked like Williams had no shot at finishing it, but he stretched out and got it. Bonus points for the giant smile on Rubio's face too.
Paul George as a human glowstick Combining creativity with style is the way to go. And George pulled it off well. He came out wearing and all yellow Pacers uniform, but asked for the lights to be turned off. When they went down, he lit up like a glowstick. He used a quality 360 dunk, and did it in the dark.
Chase Budinger and "White Men Can't Jump"
The first dunk of the night set the tone a bit as a long intro, with Diddy, set up Budinger. Diddy said his favorite basketball movie was "White Men Can't Jump" and that's when Budinger appeared wearing a snapback hat and big t-shirt. He jumped over Diddy, which wasn't all that cool, but seeing as Budinger was, uh, different than the other contestants, it was clever.
George jumps a giant Jumping over someone in a dunk contest is a pretty played out move, but leaping a 7-2 guy is going to be impressive no matter what. George brought out teammate Roy Hibbert with the original plan being Dahntay Jones standing in front to throw a lob. After it failed twice, George just took control and went over the top.
Evans gets a delivery
I can appreciate giving a nod to your franchise's past, but the jersey tribute thing is pretty played. Evans got a special delivery from comedian Kevin Hart who was dressed as a mailman. The delivery? A jersey of The Mailman, Karl Malone. Evans put it on and dunked over Hart, who is probably 4-foot-5, or something close to it.
Williams jumps the shark True story: On Friday night I saw a motorcycle under the arena and joked to someone that it was probably a prop for this year's dunk contest. So you can imagine the surprise when it was actually rolled out for Williams to jump over. I don't think it could be said better than ESPN.com's John Hollinger: "Maybe they should just have an actual shark for this Derrick Williams dunk."
Budinger goes blindfolded
Paying homage to a Cedric Ceballos dunk, Budinger blindfolded himself. He sold it pretty well faking the first attempt with a horrible miss and then had the crowd count his steps on the second try. He ended up making a reserve two-handed dunk but we'll never know if he was actually blind. And it definitely didn't make anyone say "OOOHHH!!!" which is kind of what you need.
Budinger's average windmill
New rule: You shouldn't use a pregame warmup dunk in the dunk contest. The slow motion replay made it look a little bit better, but it was still a pretty average finish. And he missed it on the first two tries.
George uses a sticket of Larry Bird The sticker schtick isn't new, and it's bad when you have to have extra stickers on hand. Because George missed his dunk using a sticker of Larry Bird's face five times. He had a backup sticker, but after that, he just started slapping the backboard. Degree of difficultly was high and the dunk itself was impressive, but mulitple misses plus the sticker thing were bad.
Williams' miss-it-a-lot dunk Nothing is worse than someone missing a dunk over and over and over. Williams ended up going 1-for-8 with an off-the-backboard between-the-legs attempt and with each miss, it got exponentially more awkward. But the end, he just gave up on it as the clock started ticking down.
Evans first person point of view dunk Oh my. Gimmick dunks can work, but that one was just a bad idea from the start. It required a replay to be appreciated and the dunk itself was something you wouldn't even take notice of in a game. You knew it was sad when Evans tried to pull himself up on the rim to make it look better. Tell-tale sign a dunk was lame.

Posted on: February 25, 2012 11:37 pm
 

Budinger's 'White Men Can't Jump' dunk on Diddy

Posted by Ben Golliver 

The 2012 Slam Dunk Contest was one to forget -- no, one to bleach out of your brain as soon as possible -- and it got off to a ridiculous start, with rapper/mogul/whatever Diddy setting up Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger in a plot-driven riff on the 1990s classic, "White Men Can't Jump."

After an introduction from Diddy that included him shouting, "Black Power!" and declaring, "White Men Can't Jump," Budinger strode onto the court dressed like Billy Hoyle, Woody Harrelson's character in the movie, complete with backwards hat and everything. 

"White men can jump," Budinger said. "I'm about to prove it right now."

He then escorted Diddy to just outside the protected circle and set him up with a basketball. Diddy threw the ball up over his head and Budinger caught it one-handed, spread eagle as he jumped over Diddy with ease, and threw down a powerful flush on his first try. Budinger's Rockets teammate, Chandler Parsons, assisted on the timing of the pass.

Here's the video of Houston Rockets forward Chase Budinger throwing down his "White Men Can't Jump" dunk over Diddy at the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest via ClutchFans.net and YouTube user RocketsRed.


Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:20 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 9:26 pm
 

David Stern on relocation, arenas, Hornets sale

Posted by Ben Golliver

ORLANDO -- No new teams, no relocating teams if at all possible, and a few moments of appreciation for the majesty of world-class arenas.

Those were the takeaway business points from NBA commissioner David Stern, who held his annual press conference before All-Star Saturday, addressing a crowd of more than 100 reporters inside Orlando's new Amway Center. He was joined by deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who spoke up briefly on his particular areas of expertise during the roughly 34 minutes of questions and answers.

There weren't many surprises, and Stern stuck with his customary optimistic tone.

"We had this thing called a lockout," Stern said. "But the recovery has been spectacular for us, and the results of the collective bargaining agreement with the expected leveling of the playing field, and the ability for well‑managed teams to both compete more than our teams have had the opportunity to compete, by some combination of the hugely enhanced revenue sharing and the much larger luxury tax. So we're thinking that we're in for a treat over the years as this situation continues to improve."

But much of the nitty-gritty of the press conference was about tying up some of the uglier loose ends facing the league on the business side. Stern addressed an array of topics related to the league's teams, including ongong arena negotiations in Sacramento, the potential sale of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, the possibility of an NBA return to Seattle, the New Jersey Nets' upcoming move to Brooklyn, and whether or not the NBA would consider expanding the league past its 30 current teams. Here's Stern's thoughts on each, one by one.

Sacramento Kings

The future of the Kings, who nearly relocated to Anaheim last year and have been hard at work to fund a new arena in Sacramento, drew more questions than any other topic, including New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin.

"Write this down: life is a negotiation," Stern said, delivering the night's most memorable quip.

Stern met with Sacramento Mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson on Saturday with talks expected to continue on Sunday, including representatives from the NBA, Johnson's office, the Maloofs and members of the league's Relocation Committee.

"We have several remaining points that will not necessarily be guaranteed to be bridged, but we're going to give it our best shot tomorrow," Stern said. "We all consider ourselves to have a March 1 deadline to either come up with a financing plan and a critical path to the construction of the arena or not."

Stern said that the NBA would not help "bridge the gap" by loaning money to the Kings. He also said both sides were invested considerably in the negotiations, but that doesn't necessarily mean a deal will eventually be reached.

"The Maloofs have stepped up, the City has stepped up," he said. "We're having very intense conversations.  Sometimes the best‑intentioned and most fervent workers don't quite get to the finish line because there are things that separate them... We're going to see whether we can bridge that gap.  I think both sides deserve it, particularly the City of Sacramento." 

Why hasn't a deal been struck yet?

"The City would like the Maloofs to make the largest ‑‑ both have come up with very substantial contributions.  It's really getting there.  It's just not there yet.  And we're looking for other ways, imaginative ways, to bridge the gap ... It's coming down to money after all of this?  Yeah."

The sale of the New Orleans Hornets

On Friday, reports surfaced that California businessman Raj Bhathal is leading a group into exclusive negotiations to purchase the league-owned Hornets with a deal expected to be struck in the near future. Bhathal would reportedly agree to keep the Hornets in New Orleans.

On Saturday, Stern declined to confirm that Bhathal was the individual involved in the exclusive negotiations, but he did confirm that one of two groups interested in purchasing the Hornets is being given priority in the negotiations. He also said that he was "optimistic" that a deal will be reached between the two sides.

"We are in discussions with one group," Stern said. "We have another group in sort of second place, waiting to see how we do with group one.  We're optimistic that we will make a deal with group one."

Stern said a deal with the new owners cannot be made until the NBA reaches a deal with Louisiana on naming rights for the Hornets' arena, which is expected in the near future.

"We're a little bit behind here because we haven't concluded our deal with the State yet, but I think it's moving closer day by day," he said. "It's progressing well, but it's not finished.  We expect to have it finished, I'm told, in the next week or ten days, and that's the period of time that we would like to hopefully have this deal for the sale of the club come into much sharper focus. 

An NBA return to Seattle?

In recent weeks, the city of Seattle and investor Chris Hansen have made some noise about building an arena in Seattle in hopes of landing a team to replace the SuperSonics, who relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. Stern confirmed that he had been in contact with Hansen regarding the plans but he seemed to place some distance between the league and Hansen's plans. 

"Chris, who I had met about a year ago, called us two weeks ago to tell us what was going to be announced that Thursday, about a letter laying out a plan, and we thought it was a ‑‑ it sounded okay to us" Stern said. "Go for it. That's all."

Stern then said that his goal was to restrict the number of teams that would be available for relocation. 

"Right now what I'm working hard to do, in a perverse kind of a way, from Seattle's perspective, is to sell New Orleans to stay in New Orleans, and get a building for Sacramento that will enable the Kings to stay in Sacramento.  I can't say for sure [that a new arena in Seattle is] a pathway [to a replacement for the Sonics], but I will say that the only way to have a team these days is to have a world‑class building."

The New Jersey Nets' move to Brooklyn

Stern got back into salesman mode when discussing the upcoming move of the New Jersey Nets to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2012-2013 season. He lauded the building and sounded genuinely excited about a transformed rivalry between the Nets and the Knicks.

"We are very happy for Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov that this building has not only risen from the ground, but it's going to be indoors, completely pretty soon, and it's going to be on time and opening," Stern said. "It is great for Brooklyn.  It is great for the Knicks.  We're going to have a spectacular rivalry. And it's going to be great for the fans of New York City and the NBA to have that kind of a rivalry and that kind of a new building."

Expansion / International Exhibitions

Asked whether the NBA had plans to add any teams, Stern ruled out any new North American franchises.

"I just don't see a North American addition," he said. "We're at 30, and we've got teams that we are working hard on to keep in their cities, to make strong through revenue sharing in our system, to grow their value, their fan base and the like."

Stern then mentioned the possibility, raised in previous years, of an expansion to Europe, before passing the microphone to Silver.

"We'll see," Silver said, with a smile that indicated you shouldn't hold your breath.

Rather than expanding, Stern and Silver mentioned plans to increase exhibitions and regular season games to be played internationally. No definitive plans were set, but both London and Shanghai were mentioned as possible destinations. London was previously scheduled to host two NBA games before the lockout schedule killed those plans.
Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:54 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:59 pm
 

Bynum would like the ball more in crunch-time

Andrewy Bynum says he could use the ball more in close games. (Getty Images)
Posted by Royce Young

ORLANDO -- The Los Angeles Laker offense has been something of an enigma. Three All-Stars in the starting five, two of the most dominant bigs in the game and a Hall of Fame guard that is fifth all-time in scoring, while leading the league this season in points per game.

But the offense ranks 16th in offensive efficiency with 103.0 points per 100 possessions and 22nd in points per game with just 93.1 a night. Not great. But as average as the offense has been as a whole, it's gotten worse in crunch time situations. Scoring becomes a chore for the Lakers the last five minutes of a game.

"Crunch-time has been tough for us," center Andrew Bynum said Saturday. "Because we're not moving the ball, not playing the same style of basketball that got us where we were at. And really, that has a lot to do with the coaches and just kind of getting people in the spots that are going to make them successful."

It's a little hard to really decipher what Bynum meant there. He said that with a casualness that doesn't suggest that he's throwing blame at Mike Brown and his staff, but he did say that not moving the ball and playing the same style as the first 45 minutes of a game "has a lot to do with the coaches."

Obviously the Laker crunch-time offense runs directly through No. 24, but maybe it should feature Bynum a bit more. He's having one of his most productive seasons yet and is starting as an All-Star. He's averaging career-highs in points and rebounds per game and is shooting 54.4 percent from the field. So does he want the ball a little more late in games? But that means prying it from the cold dead hands of Kobe.

"If I'm doing good things with my touches, I just have to get the ball," Bynum said. "Actually, the team tried to get me going late in the game [against Oklahoma City Thursday]. They started to feed me the ball and that was great."

Bynum's referencing the fourth quarter against the Thunder in which he scored on back-to-back possessions, one a big dunk and the other a low block hook. After that, Kendrick Perkins checked back in to defend Bynum and the Laker big only saw one more touch as the Lakers struggled to stop OKC and score to keep pace, eventually losing by 15.

The Lakers had a players only meeting earlier that week that seemed to help though, Bynum said. The team responded with a big win in Dallas the night after. Question is, how long will that good mojo last?

"I think it will definitely carry over," Bynum said. "We have guys on our team that can play at a high level. It's just believing we can do that."

Bynum had a scheduled injection in his knee on Friday and sat out the West's practice on Saturday with a towel wrapped around his right knee. But it was all planned and he is expected to play in the game Sunday. Which means he'll be starting opposite of Dwight Howard, who has rumors swirling all around him right now. One being that he'll end up a Los Angeles Laker. What does Bynum think of that possibility?

"It would be great. We should get all three guys and nobody would ever score inside," he said. "We already have twin towers and that would just be like the same sort of thing. High-low action and I think our defense would be... crazy."
Posted on: February 25, 2012 12:43 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Kobe Bryant All-Star Saturday sound bites

Posted by Ben Golliver   
Kobe Bryant took questions on All-Star Saturday. (CBSSports.com)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant skipped out on Friday morning's All-Star media availability, citing illness. Later Friday, he magically recovered for a promotional appearance, and he looked in fine form Saturday morning while being swarmed by international media members prior to All-Star practice.

It didn't take long for Bryant to reveal the real cause of his illness: questions that irritate him.

"What type of question is that to ask me? Are you kidding me?" Bryant said, when a reported asked if he would root for the Los Angeles Clippers if they made it to the NBA Finals. "Man, I was sick the other day so I didn't have to hear this."

Further prodded for his preference in a hypothetical match-up between the Clippers and the Miami Heat, Bryant cocked his head to the site, as he is wont to do, and said, "Huh? I'd be on an island somewhere."

Jeremy Lin

Bryant experienced "Linsanity" first hand when New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin exploded for a career-high 38 points against the Lakers at Madison Square Garden in February.

Before that game, Bryant said he wasn't really aware of Lin's game, but afterwards he sang a different tune, extending a complimentary review of the performance.

On Saturday, he went a different direction, attacking the NBA's talent evaluators for doing exactly what he had done in February: overlooking Lin's abilities.

"The biggest thing to me is how everybody missed it," Bryant said. "They all would be fired if I was the owner of the team. I hear this stuff about it coming out of nowhere and it's a load of crap… There had to be something there and everybody missed it."

Dwight Howard

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard continues to draw the biggest media crowds with the game in his backyard and his future up in the air.

"It's a little awkward. It's a little awkward," Bryant said of the fact that Howard's trade demand is hanging over All-Star Weekend.

He then seemed to express some sympathy for Howard's frustration, perhaps hinting at his own feelings about the direction of the Lakers.

"He just wants his team [to win]… with players, sometimes there's a certain level of frustration when we don't feel like we're moving in the right direction."

All-Star Memories

Asked for his favorite All-Star memory from 14 selections, Bryant didn't hesitate. 

"For me the best memory of All-Star Weekend has always been my first All-Star Game. The Golden Greats -- [Michael] Jordan, [Clyde] Drexler, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, those guys. Always my fondest memory."

Los Angeles Clippers

Bryant said he's looking forward to playing with Clippers guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin during Sunday night's All-Star Game. 

"We had a good time last year," he remembered. The 2011 All-Star Game was held in Los Angeles.  
Asked if he ever imagined that four Western Conference starters would come from Los Angeles, he delivered a punchline he seemed to have been sitting on.

"Yeah, it was just in Lakers uniforms. Clippers had none."

Mentoring

Given that the All-Star experience is now old habit for him, Bryant joked that he was merely looking for "rest and relaxation" this weekend.

He did say that he also enjoys evaluating the first-time selections to see who has "pre-game jitters" and that he seeks out younger players with certain characteristics to offer a bit of mentorship. 

"Certain players, if I see a little bit of myself in them in terms of disposition and work ethic, I'll help them out," he said, without revealing any names.

Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:25 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 11:32 pm
 

Greg Monroe steals dunk from John Wall

Posted by Royce Young and Ben Golliver   

Washington Wizards guard John Wall was holding an impressive one-man impromptu Dunk Contest during the second half of Friday's Rising Stars Challenge but then Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe stepped in to kill all the fun.

After Wall completed an alley-oop, a left-handed cockback and a behind-his-own-back dunk that had the Amway Center on its feet, he lined up a self alley-oop pass from outside the 3-point line. His plan: attempt a between-his-legs dunk to finish the evening on a high note.

The only problem? Monroe stepped in to swipe the ball, killing Wall's chance while drawing some jeers.

"I was going to try the between-the-legs," Wall said. "I've never tried that before. He stole the ball. He messed my up my rhythm." 

Here's the video of Greg Monroe stealing a dunk attempt from John Wall via YouTube user SoccerKevin11.



Of course, Monroe's unexpected pilfering was hilarious.

"It was just a joke," Monroe said. "He got another shot at it. The game was over so it wasn't a big deal... I thought about it right when I did it. It was real quick. I was thinking about letting him go but then ..."

Monroe tailed off, and shrugged his shoulders.

Wall was able to laugh it off too, although he said he has plans to get revenge when the Wizards host the Pistons on Mar. 26.

"It's just fun. Don't get mad at him for it. He did it so I'm going to try to dunk on him when we play them... It was funny. I was going to try something else but he took it away from me. The crowd didn't like it. You get a little upset but it's an All-Star Game. We're having fun. You just let it go."

As the players filed into post-game media availability, Monroe ran ahead of the pack to snag a Gatorade bottle that had been placed on the table of New Jersey Nets guard MarShon Brooks.

"Are you going to steal that too?" Brooks asked, incredulous.

Wall and Brooks got the last laugh, as their Team Chuck, coached by Charles Barkley, defeated Monroe's Team Shaq, coached by Shaquille O'Neal, 146-133.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:26 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 10:50 pm
 

Video: Rubio through Cousins' legs to Griffin

Posted by Royce Young



Ricky Rubio was created by the basketball gods for the type of open floor, no defense setting featured in the Rising Stars game.

Really, Ricky Rubio was just created to make ridiculous plays, period. Care-free exhibition or not.

What honestly makes Rubio's dribble through DeMarcus Cousins' legs a little bit cooler is that it's not all that hard to picture it happening in a real NBA game. Except for the part about throwing it to Blake Griffin, because, you know, he's not on Rubio's team.

But you know a play has to be impressive when it catches your attention in a game like this. And Rubio's completely slick move definitely has my vote for move of the weekend so far. It's going to be hard to top.

Via @jose3030
Posted on: February 24, 2012 8:14 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 9:09 pm
 

Jeremy Lin: Bias provides 'chip on shoulder'

Posted by Ben Golliver   

Jeremy Lin discussed the bias he faced from talent evaluators during All-Star Weekend (Getty Images)

ORLANDO -- Jeremy Lin knows exactly how much he was overlooked.

"I think ESPN had me as the 467th best player out of 500 or something like that coming into the season," Lin said, speaking in front of a standing room at Amway Center on Friday night.

Lin, a Taiwanese-American, said that he believes that a biased perception of Asian-American athletes was a contributing factor in his being underrated by NBA talent evaluators during the last few years.

"I think it has something to do with it," Lin, who was undrafted out of Harvard in 2010 and cut by both the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets this season, said. "I don't know how much. But I think just being Asian-American, obviously when you look at me, I'm going to have to prove myself more so again and again and again, and some people may not believe it."

Preconceived notions about his race, Lin said, choosing his words carefully, might even have influenced the language used to describe his skillset.

"I know a lot of people say I'm deceptively athletic and deceptively quick, and I'm not sure what's 'deceptive.' But it could be the fact that I'm Asian-American. But I think that's fine. It's something that I embrace, and it gives me a chip on my shoulder." 

The media contingent began arriveing more than a half-hour before Lin's press conference, which was televised live on NBA TV. Unlike the other participants in the Rising Stars Challenge game, Lin did not conduct interviews following Friday morning's practice. Instead, he filled 10 rows of chairs in Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy's Amway Center press conference room, with reporters hugging both walls as well. Eventually, the doors were closed and media members were turned away due to a lack of space.

Lin went on to state that the doubts about his abilities continued into his tenure with the New York Knicks, where he has become a breakout star since moving into the starting point guard role. He confirmed reports that he had attended a group chapel service with a number of fellow NBA players and admitted that he had prayed that he wouldn't be released before cut day, as his contract was not yet guaranteed.

"I went to chapel with Jerome Jordan and Landry Fields and the chaplain asked us to share a prayer request," Lin remembered. "I knew February 10th was right around the corner, so that was what was on my heart. Just that I would be able to continue to stay on the roster and be with the team the rest of the year. So that's kind of what I shared with the group of guys."

The prayer, he said, was the result of feeling as if getting released would put him at a crossroads.

"I really didn't have a Plan B to be honest... I was thinking about three main options: overseas, D-League or to just take a break or give up basketball for awhile. And I just didn't really know. I was just trying not to think about it basically. I just said, if I get cut by the Knicks, then I'll take a look at all that, but until then, I want to make sure I try to stay focused and not think negatively.

That prayer session probably feels like years ago to Lin, who currently ranks in the top-20 in player efficiency in the NBA. Nevertheless, his frugal lifestyle remains the same.

"I'm still a minimum guy," he said quickly when asked if he had "splurged" on anything recently. "That hasn't changed."
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com