Warriors

San Jose's Aaron Gordon puts on show, loses Slam Dunk Contest

aaron-gordon-2016dunkcontest-usatsi.jpg

San Jose's Aaron Gordon puts on show, loses Slam Dunk Contest

TORONTO -- Zach LaVine was fresh out of dunks, having been pushed to the limits by Aaron Gordon in an epic final round that put the slam dunk contest back on top at All-Star Saturday night.

In need of some magic, he reached deep down into his repertoire and found just enough left for one more go.

"We were looking in our bag of tricks. Ain't nothing left," LaVine said. "I just found a little piece of dust."

LaVine pulled off a between-the-legs dunk from the free throw line on the second tie-breaker to take home his second straight dunk contest trophy, becoming just the fourth player to pull off that feat.

The Minnesota Timberwolves guard had never tried the dunk before. Not in practice. Not at that playgrounds back home in Seattle. But he had already used all four of the dunks he planned to do when fellow contestant Will Barton told him to try it.

He pulled it off, putting an emphatic punctuation on a contest that instantly drew comparisons to the showdown between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in 1988.

"I just think that was the best contest," LaVine said. "There was some stuff that's never been done before. I don't want to get into the greats - Mike, they're in a different breath. If you really look at it as a whole, we were doing dunks that professional dunkers take four or five tries to do and we were doing it on the first try. It was ridiculous, man."

The night started as a coronation when on his first dunk LaVine grabbed the ball off the bounce, wrapped the ball around his back before cupping it with his right hand and threw it down. But once the contest was whittled to two contestants, Gordon put on a show every bit LaVine's equal.

"I'm so happy I prepared some extras because usually you don't need them," LaVine said. "People usually aren't that prepared to go up against you. But he deserved the title just as much as I did. He ... did some crazy, ridiculous dunks. I'm just glad I got the last laugh."

Gordon jumped over Magic mascot Stuff, who was standing on a hoverboard, for three of his dunks, including one in which he grabbed the ball and passed it underneath both legs before throwing it down. He also grabbed the ball out of a spinning Stuff's hand and threw down a huge 360 to open the final round.

"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."

The door finally opened for LaVine when Gordon was awarded a 47 on his fourth dunk of the second round, a Harold Miner-style jackknife.

Then LaVine shut it down.

"Zach's an incredible dunker," Gordon said. "He went through the legs from the free-throw line. That is insane. So off that dunk, you've got to give it to him. That's why the trophy's with him and not with me."

Nick Wright claims LeBron James gets two rings for beating 2016 Warriors

Nick Wright claims LeBron James gets two rings for beating 2016 Warriors

Nick Wright will say anything to try to buttress his belief that LeBron James is the best basketball player of all time.

And the very opinionated TV personality went to the extreme Monday on his Fox Sports 1 morning show "First Things First."

"I'm making a proclamation today. Everyone always tries to say, 'Six rings, six rings -- LeBron can't be the greatest ever until he has six rings.' It's a facile argument but I'll engage in it for this moment," he said. "We all know LeBron officially-unofficially got credit for two rings when he came from 3-1 down and beat a 73-win (Warriors) team -- sent Draymond (Green) crying to his car to call Kevin Durant. So right now he's at four.

"Before the stoppage happened, the Lakers were playing their best ball of the season. They get thrown off course, Giannis (Antetokounmpo) is able to get healthy, other things happen that make it harder. Then they lose (Avery) Bradley, now they've lost (Rajon) Rondo.

"When they win the title this year, it counts as another two -- which means LeBron and (Michael) Jordan will both have six rings."

Yes, this actually happened.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Conventional wisdom says Wright was 100 percent kidding, and simply got on his soapbox for entertainment purposes. But with him, he probably just was 97 percent joking.

And since Wright mentioned Draymond, here is a friendly reminder: In the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron averaged 24.8 points, 8.3 assists and 5.8 turnovers the first four games. Then, everything changed when Draymond was suspended for Game 5. Over the final three games of the series, LeBron averaged 36.3 points, 9.7 assists and 2.7 turnovers.

[RELATED: Draymond reveals team he sees as favorite to win NBA title]

It also didn't help that Andrew Bogut missed Games 6 and 7, and that Harrison Barnes went 5-for-32 from the field over the final three games. But we digress. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the series and that's a scientific fact.

You want another fact? LeBron has won three championships and he will have four if the Los Angeles Lakers capture this season's title in Orlando.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram

Giannis Antetokounmpo recruitment still gives Bucks GM 'zero' worries

Giannis Antetokounmpo recruitment still gives Bucks GM 'zero' worries

There are strict rules within the NBA's Orlando bubble, with social distancing being highly emphasized. That doesn't change the fact that there are hundreds of players in close quarters. 

Recruiting, better known as tampering, could be at an all-time high. But Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst isn't worried when it comes to his superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

"Zero," Horst said, via ESPN's Eric Woodyard, when asked about his worries when it comes to Giannis being recruited. "We can only control what we can control. If it's considered tampering or recruiting or whatever it is, in our league people talk, people are connected, people have relationships.

"At the end of the day, I have full confidence in my personal relationship, our league's relationship, our coach's relationship, his teammate's relationship with Giannis in what we're doing and what we're about."

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Antetokounmpo, 25, isn't a free agent until after next season, but he is eligible for a supermax contract worth over $250 million at the conclusion of this season. If the Bucks do offer him that megadeal and he turns it down, it might be time to move on and see what the Bucks can receive in a blockbuster trade.

One team that won't be in close quarters to Giannis is the Warriors, who aren't a part of the NBA's restart. The 2019 NBA MVP has a close relationship with Golden State star Steph Curry and rumors have run rampant of Antetokounmpo becoming the next star in San Francisco. In the blink of an eye, the Warriors could go from Kevin Durant to Giannis as Steph's newest co-star. 

[RELATED: How Steph feels about Dubs playing in second NBA bubble]

Winning a championship obviously would help the Bucks' chance of keeping Giannis in Milwaukee, and in addition, he would cost a whole lot for the Warriors to acquire. Golden State likely would have to get rid of Klay Thompson and much more, but Antetokounmpo is a truly rare talent who hasn't even come close to his ceiling. With a plethora of draft picks and coveted players, the Warriors might have the best trade package for Giannis, but it won't come cheap.

For now, though, Horst isn't shaking at the knees by any means. He's focused on a championship, and has every right to believe Giannis will be a Buck for a long, long time.