Rookie Mitchell Wins Slam Dunk Contest
Rookie Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz edged Larry Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the Slam Dunk Contest at the NBA All-Star Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Mitchell scored a perfect 50 on the first of two final-round dunks to take a four-point lead on Nance, who scored a perfect 50 on his second dunk to put the pressure on Mitchell, who responded with a 48 to edge Nance, 98-96.
“I wanted this so badly,” Mitchell said in his on-court interview after the win. “This is one of my favorite events of All-Star Weekend growing up. To be in it, then to win it is just amazing. It was a lot of fun.”
Mitchell was a late addition to the contest after Magic forward Aaron Gordon had to withdraw because of a hip injury.
His competitor in the final round, Larry Nance Jr. used the contest also to honour his father, 1984 Slam Dunk contest winner Larry Nance Sr.
Before he took his first shot, Nance did a quick uniform change on court and wore the uniform his father had worn back in 1984. He then went on to replicate his father’s dunk. However, Mitchell took the competition took just another level to seal the win.
Dennis Smith Jr. of the Mavericks and Victor Oladipo of the Pacers were eliminated in the first round.
The Three-Point and Skills Challenge
The Suns' Devin Booker won the Three-Point Contest by scoring a record 28 points of a possible 34 in the final round, defeating the Warriors' Klay Thompson, the 2016 champion who had 25 points, and the Clippers' Tobias Harris, who had 17. Booker made 20 of 25 3-pointers.
Defending champion Eric Gordon of the Rockets was eliminated in the first round, as were Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Bradley Beal (Wizards), Paul George (Thunder) and Wayne Ellington (Heat).
The Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie defeated the Bulls' Lauri Markkanen to win the Skills Challenge, which paired players in a head-to-head series of skills contests in an obstacle-course-type format.
Four guards competed in one bracket and four big men in the other, with the two winners meeting in the final. Dinwiddie bested the Nuggets' Jamal Murray in the final of the guards bracket, and Markkanen beat the 76ers' Joel Embiid in the bigs bracket final.
Defending champion Kristaps Porzingis was unable to participate after suffering a torn ACL earlier this month.
Other participants were Buddy Hield (Kings), Lou Williams (Clippers), Al Horford (Celtics) and Andre Drummond (Pistons).
No ‘Shutting Up’ LeBron
Off the court, LeBron James made it clear on Saturday that he had no intention of keeping his mouth shut and dribbling a basketball.
The Cleveland Cavaliers star said after Saturday's NBA All-Star Game practice in Los Angeles that he will "talk about what's really important" when it comes to the state of race relations in America.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized James earlier this week for expressing his opinions, including the quickly infamous "shut up and dribble" comment.
"I will not just shut up and dribble," James said during his media session. "... So, thank you, whatever her name is. ... I get to sit up here and talk about what's really important and how I can help change kids."
James has used his platform and ability to reach people. He has criticized President Donald Trump and did so again in January when he and Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant sat down with ESPN and both issued strong comments condemning the leadership in the White House.
Ingraham's comments -- they included telling James to "keep the political commentary to yourself" -- were in reference to the James/Durant interview.
James initially put a #wewillnotshutupanddribble hashtag on his Instagram account after hearing Ingraham's remarks.
"It lets me know that everything I've been saying is correct for her to have that type of reaction," James said Saturday of Ingraham. "But we will definitely not shut up and dribble. I will definitely not do that.
"I mean too much to society, I mean too much to the youth, I mean too much to so many kids that feel like they don't have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they're in."
Durant echoed James' comment with some of his own on Saturday.
"I feel like everybody has a voice, especially with our own platforms, we can use our voices for good," Durant said. "It's not just me. I feel like everybody in this room has a voice and it's getting louder and louder every day, so we've got to speak what we believe in, we've got to speak our truths, and we've got to keep it real out here."
Ingraham released a statement Saturday defending her comments.
"In 2003, I wrote a New York Times bestseller called 'Shut Up & Sing,' in which I criticized celebrities like the Dixie Chicks and Barbra Streisand, who were trashing then-President George W. Bush. I have used a variation of that title for more than 15 years to respond to performers who sound off on politics," Ingraham said. "... If pro athletes and entertainers want to freelance as political pundits, then they should not be surprised when they're called out for insulting politicians. There was no racial intent in my remarks -- false, defamatory charges of racism are a transparent attempt to immunize entertainment and sports elites from scrutiny and criticism."
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