NEW ORLEANS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, who finished second to Minnesota’s Zach LaVine in the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest, has his sights set on winning the dunk title this year when the competition heats up on Saturday night.
“It’s going to be innovative,” Gordon said. “It’s going to be technologically oriented. It’s going to be original and creative. I’m not looking to play it safe.”
Last year Gordon leap-frogged the Magic’s 6-foot mascot, Stuff the Magic Dragon, grabbed the ball and passed it under both legs before dunking it home.
–Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis said despite New Orleans’ struggling records in his five seasons with the team he wants to remain there and build a contender.
“I want to be here,” Davis said. “I love playing here. I plan on staying here. I want to do great things with this franchise. You can’t do that if you leave.”
–Former New Orleans guard Eric Gordon, who has rebuilt his career as a dead-eye perimeter shooter with the Rockets, called his former team “dysfunctional” and said he had “a lot of ups and downs” in New Orleans.
Gordon will compete in his first 3-point shootout.
“It’s different picking the ball off the rack,” Gordon said. “I really want to win it.”
–Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol passed up a charter flight to New Orleans for the All-Star Game by driving the 395 miles in an electric Tesla automobile.
It took Gasol nine hours instead of the usual six because he had to make two stops to recharge the Tesla’s batteries.
NOTES: The NBA excused Cavaliers F LeBron James and Knicks F Carmelo Anthony from the scheduled media session Friday. … When West All-Star coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors was informed that Friday was former teammate Michael Jordan’s 54th birthday, he said, “Wow, that’s sad.” … Trail Blazers G CJ McCollum, who last October criticized Donald Trump for characterizing Trump’s sexually explicit language in a 2005 video as “locker room talk,” said he has little regard for the president. Asked what he would say if he had “10 minutes with Donald Trump,” McCollum replied: “I doubt I would ever speak to him.” … Cleveland G Kyrie Irving, who won the 3-Point Contest in 2013, said his strategy is not to practice. “I’m trying to go into the 3-point competition with a clear conscience,” he said. … Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who is coaching the East team, said the key to Boston’s success this season has been unselfish players. “I don’t put a ceiling on us,” Stevens said. “We’ve got a lot of guys with chips on their shoulder.”