by Brendan Ripley-Barasch
The participants in the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest included, Denver Nuggets SG Will Barton, Pistons Center Andre Drummond, Orlando Magic PF Aaron Gordon, and defending champion Zach LaVine. The contest kicked off with Barton and Drummond scoring sub-par scores which left fans wondering if this would be another lackluster event. But then the event changed course when Gordon threw down a between-the-legs reverse dunk, this got the crowd going. LaVine answered with a behind-the-back reverse slam, scoring a whopping 50 from the scorer’s table. After this, it was obvious that the contest would be decided between these two heavyweights. Back and forth they went, one spectacular slam-dunk after another. LaVine’s success came from his multiple slams after leaping from the free-throw line and Gordon’s highlight of the night was when he executed a between-the-legs over the mascot dunk which many are claiming one of the greatest dunks ever performed in the history of the Dunk Contest. The two high-flyers ended the night in a dunk-off which eventually saw Zach LaVine walk away with the hardware for the second straight year. This contest provided the entertainment and fun that fans and media had been hungry to see, from the variety of crazy slams to the reactions of LaVine’s teammates and competitors.
The media held this dunk contest in high regards along with the fans. Stephen A. on first take went so far as to say, “To me the Slam-Dunk Contest was resurrected Saturday night.” He also went on to give his opinion on how he thought Aaron Gordon should have won and how Shaq dishing out low scores played a pivotal part in raising the bar to contestants so they would give a great performance. There were also multiple media personnel that compared the showdown of LaVine and Gordon to Dunk-Contest greats Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. This is the quite comparison and just demonstrates how these players have brought the event back to the forefront of All-Star weekend entertainment.
In my opinion, this contest certainly was entertaining and may have changed many people’s outlook on the competition. I thought even the 2015 dunk contest took a huge step forward in drawing in viewers and causing a buzz around the league as well as the twitter-sphere. We can only hope as fans and as media that the Dunk Contests to follow will be as entertaining as this one.
By Matt Rogers
As a player, Michael Jordan is regarded by many as the best basketball player to ever play the game. As an NBA executive for the Charlotte Hornets, formerly the Bobcats, he is not regarded as highly. What Michael Jordan the player and Michael Jordan the owner have in common is the standoffish attitude toward the media in order to have control of his image.
This sense of image control and attitude toward the media have followed Jordan throughout his evolution from player into owner of an NBA franchise. In a recent interview with Darrell Rovell of ESPN, Jordan gave the reporter and viewers of ESPN a look inside the locker room of the Charlotte Hornets. He also gave insight on the team’s off-season acquisition of shooting guard Lance Stephenson, formerly of the Indiana Pacers. When asked how he managed to recruit Stephenson away from the Pacers and to the Hornets, Jordan said he told Stephenson that “we [the Hornets] need someone that could compete against LeBron, simple as that.”
This type of response from Jordan is not surprising given that he won 6 NBA titles in his career as an NBA player for the Chicago Bulls. It also is not surprising because it shows that Jordan understands and respects the caliber of player that LeBron James has grown into over his career, one that many media personalities and fans compare to Michael Jordan. This comment also shows that Jordan may see more in Stephenson as a player than just the antics that most casual viewers of the NBA witnessed during the NBA Eastern Conference Finals series last year against LeBron and the Miami Heat.
Not only has Jordan seemingly ventured away from his perceived comfort zone and given an exclusive, all-access interview with Rovell, he has also tried his hand in social media in recent days. This is substantial because Jordan has been anything but an advocate for social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. It seem as though Jordan is retracting from this stance though because he has been using the Hornets’ official Twitter account to make announcements about the team. One thing that has caught the media’s eye that Jordan used the Hornets’ account to post is a response to a post from PGA tour golfer Keegan Bradley. Bradley posted “MJ how does it feel to get beat by me everyday at bears club?! #GoHornets.” Jordan responded by posting “Last time I looked, you were wearing MY shoes. You don’t see me wearing Air Keegans…”
These types of fun social media posts and exclusive interviews are a rarity from Michael Jordan. He will probably remain the guy that keeps most of his inner thoughts close to his chest because that is the way he has always been, as a player, and so far, as an owner.
BY ANTHONY ALFORD
The new documentary about the 1992 U.S. Men’s Basketball Olympic Team is a must see for any sports fan.
Produced by NBA TV, the film focuses on how superstars with huge competitive egos like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson can co-exist on the same team. More importantly, this film shows what it took for this Olympic team to be the best team in the history of team sports.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this documentary was how they focused on the internal competitive battles within the team. It was Jordan versus Johnson or Barkley versus Malone to find out who was the best. The practice footage that was used to show these battles was brilliant. Viewers were able to really see how intense every practice was.
The documentary also went in-depth as to how the team’s head coach, Chuck Daly, then the Piston’s head coach, managed all the different personalities on this team. More interviews with assistant coaches, some of them Hall of Famers, would have strengthened the documentary.
The production of this film was excellent. It gave the audience an in-depth look at the “Dream Team” through many interviews with a lot of perspective.
NBA TV is known for quality NBA programming because that network is operated by Turner Sports, which is the home to the best studio show in sports “Inside the NBA.”