The Latest: OKC’s Diallo Leaps over Shaq to Win Dunk Contest
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on NBA All-Star Weekend (all times local):
Oklahoma City’s Hamidou Diallo is the NBA’s slam dunk champion.
Going over Shaquille O’Neal in the first round, then getting a boost from rapper Quavo in the finale, Diallo soared to the crown by topping New York’s Dennis Smith Jr.
Diallo topped Smith 88-85 in the finale. Charlotte’s Miles Bridges and Atlanta’s John Collins went out in the first round.
Smith leapfrogged Miami’s Dwyane Wade and took a lob from Stephen Curry to give himself a chance with his last dunk, getting a perfect score from the judges — and a round of boos from the crowd, many of whom weren’t that impressed.
That left Diallo as the night’s final participant.
Diallo pulled off a dunk that will be talked about for years in the first round — dunking over O’Neal, hanging on the rim by his elbow, then tearing open his jersey to reveal a “Superman” shirt underneath. And then he plucked the ball from Quavo as he went airborne for the dunk that sealed the title.
Brooklyn’s Joe Harris held off Golden State’s Stephen Curry to win the 3-point contest at All-Star Saturday night.
Harris made 12 consecutive shots at one point in the final round on his way to a score of 26 points. Curry was second with 24 in the finals, and Sacramento’s Buddy Hield was third with 19 points.
The Warriors’ star made his first nine shots of the final round, then missed three of five shots from the top of the key.
Stephen Curry won the first round with 27 points out of a possible of 34. Hield was second with 26 points, and Harris finished with 25 to grab the last spot in the finals.
There were 10 players in the event, and seven went out in the first round.
Defending champion Devin Booker made his final seven shots but was eliminated in a tie for fourth with Danny Green with 23 points.
The other competitors who did not advance: Dirk Nowitzki and Damian Lillard (17), Seth Curry (16), Kemba Walker (15) and Khris Middleton (11)
Boston’s Jayson Tatum hit a 3-pointer from just beyond midcourt to beat Atlanta’s Trae Young in the final round of the skills competition at All-Star Saturday night.
Tatum defeated Memphis’ Mike Conley in the first round, then topped Denver’s Nikola Jokic in the semifinals.
Tatum was slightly behind Young going into the 3-pointer, the final shot of the event, and decided he needed to try the long shot to get one in before Young could shoot for the title.
Tatum says the trophy will go to his mother’s home. He says he was “just out here trying to have fun. I threw one up and it went in.”
Jokic defeated Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, Young beat Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox and Dallas’ Luka Doncic topped the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma in other first-round matchups. Young beat Doncic in the semifinals.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he’s pleased with the level of competitive balance that currently exists within the league, though cautioned there are still many ways to improve on that front.
Silver’s annual All-Star weekend address was Saturday night. It comes with Milwaukee holding the NBA’s best record, a surprise of sorts in Denver contending for the top record in the Western Conference and Sacramento in position to end the league’s longest current playoff drought at 13 years.
Silver says there are still teams who choose, for whatever reason, to not be as competitive as others. But he says the league is striving to continue creating a fair and balanced playing field for all 30 teams.
The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa.
The Basketball Africa League, a collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday. The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January.
It’s yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part. No nation will have more than two teams in the league.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says the league is “an important next step in our continued development of the game of basketball in Africa.”
Boston’s Kyrie Irving and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis say they both plan to play in Sunday’s All-Star game.
Both have been dealing with injuries lately. Irving has been dealing with a strained right knee for about a week, and Davis left New Orleans’ last game before the All-Star break with a bruised muscle in his left shoulder.
Irving is a starter on Team LeBron, and Davis is one of the reserves on that team.
Irving was definitive, saying he is fine and ready to go. Davis’ tempered his prediction on playing, saying he expects to play but suggesting that it depends on how he feels Sunday.
LeBron James says he has kept a close eye on what freshman sensation Zion Williamson is doing at Duke and believes “it’s great for the game.”
Williamson, a 6-foot-7, 285-pounder, has become a national sensation with his size and leaping ability.
James said Saturday at practice for the All-Star game that the biggest thing he’s impressed with is Williamson’s athleticism, saying “we all see it,” adding that his ability to jump well behind the 10-foot rim is “beyond incredible.”
But James, who will play in his 15th All-Star game on Sunday, says he also sees what some others don’t: Williamson’s humility and love of the game.
James says Williamson is “humble about the fact that he gets to play the game he loves every single day. I love everything about him from the outside looking in.” James says Williamson will only get better as the season progresses being around Mike Krzyzewski, who he considers to be the “greatest coach of all time.”
The Curry brothers have levied a wager for their head-to-head competition in Saturday night’s NBA 3-point contest: Whoever loses must buy tickets for the entire Curry family anytime they play against each other for the remainder of their NBA careers.
Stephen said Saturday before practice for the All-Star game that “the stakes are pretty high considering how many people show up for our games.”
It’s unclear if the group will include a new sister-in-law. There are reports that Seth has proposed to Callie Rivers, the daughter of NBA coach Doc Rivers. When asked about it Saturday, Seth declined to talk about their relationship.
Stephen, who won the 3-point competition in 2015, says he is motivated to win it again because he’s “knows for a fact” that everybody else in the Curry family —including his parents— are pulling for Seth.
Stephen says with a laugh, “so I hope to pull the upset.”
Both players are hoping to do better than their father Dell Curry, who participated in the 3-point contest twice but never made it out of the first round. Seth, making his first appearance, says Dell advised them to “do a whole lot better than I did.”
Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo says he’ll play in the FIBA world championships this summer.
Greece has already qualified for the 32-team tournament, which starts in China on Aug. 31.
Antetokounmpo said Saturday before practice for the All-Star game that the only way he wouldn’t play is if he had any injury concerns.
Many NBA stars are expected to participate, even though the finals in mid-September will be held a week or so before the start of training camps for the 2019-20 season.
John Collins has a favorite dunker. Not surprisingly, it’s his Atlanta teammate Vince Carter.
Collins will represent the Hawks in the dunk contest, one of the events during All-Star Saturday Night. The 3-point contest and skills competition are also on the evening docket.
Collins had perhaps the best dunk of the Rising Stars game Friday night, going with a pass off the backboard to himself for a slam over Dallas’ Luka Doncic. He says he’s got three or four dunks ready to go for Saturday night.
He won’t reveal what to expect: “No hints,” he said Saturday morning.