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NBA ALL-STAR NOTES

Commissioner tries to keep Kings in Sacramento

Jeremy Evans wins a less-than-thrilling dunk contest. Kevin Love beats Kevin Durant in three-point final.

February 25, 2012|By John Cherwa
  • Jazz forward Jeremy Evans gets a close look at the rim as he throws down a reverse dunk in the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night at Amway Center in Orlando.
Jazz forward Jeremy Evans gets a close look at the rim as he throws down a reverse… (Red Huber / Orlando Sentinel )

Reporting from Orlando, Fla. -- NBA Commissioner David Stern has been in a pretty good mood lately. His superlatives about the league outnumber his references to what a great job Orlando has done hosting the All-Star event.

It's a far cry from December, when the league was within days of canceling the season. But all's good, right?

Well, there is the case of the Sacramento Kings, who have until March 1 to present a plan that would keep them in Northern California. And, of course, the New Orleans Hornets, who with Stern as "owner" of the team, chose not to let the Chris Paul-to-the-Lakers trade go through.

In his traditional All-Star game state of the league address, he did little to bring clarity to those issues.

He met with Sacramento officials Saturday and plans to meet again Sunday with the hopes of keeping the team from moving. Anaheim and Seattle are the two most likely destination cities, with the edge going to Seattle.

"We have several remaining points that will not necessarily be guaranteed to be bridged," Stern said. "But we're going to going to give it our best shot [Sunday] in a meeting that's going to be attended by me, the mayor, the Maloof family representatives and members of the relocation committee."

The issue, of course, is money and how much the city wants to put up as opposed to how much the Maloof brothers want to contribute to a new arena.

Several Sacramento reporters tried to pin Stern down, but he would pause, smile and say: "Life is a negotiation."

Stern did say the league would not play a part in financing a new arena and made it seem as if the league's March 1 deadline is firm.

Stern was also asked if he had second thoughts about his participation in stopping the Paul trade. The league owns the Hornets and as commissioner that makes Stern the principal owner.

"There is no superstar that gets traded in this league unless the owner says go ahead with it," Stern said. "And in the case of New Orleans, the representative of the owner said: 'That's not a trade we're going to make.'"

"But that representative was you?" he was asked.

"Correct."

And the winner is …

Realizing that this year's dunk contest was sorely lacking in star power the league decided against creativity and made force a key ingredient. But it didn't stop the contestants from believing the contest needed a gimmick by jumping over something or someone.

In the first round, Chase Budinger of Houston dunked over P. Diddy, Paul George of Indiana dunked over two of his teammates and Derrick Williams of Minnesota flew over a motorcycle. Jeremy Evans of Utah just dunked.

The second-round gimmicks included Evans dunking two basketballs over a seated teammate, George dunking in the dark wearing glow-in-the-dark clothing and Williams doing a 360 off a pass from Ricky Rubio. Budinger did a garden variety windmill dunk.

The third round had Budinger do a reverse dunk while blindfolded, Evans dunking over comedian Kevin Hart, George replicating a Larry Bird dunk and Williams making one off the glass.

Evans was the winner in voting by fans by text or tweet.

Giving the league hope was a comment earlier in the day by the Clippers' Blake GrIffin about a return to the competition.

"I might, but I'm not sure," Griffin said. "One of the things about All-Star weekend is that guys are looking to get a break for a while."

Feel the Love

The three-point competition went to a playoff between Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and Kevin Love of Minnesota. Love won it, 17-14. Defending champion James Jones of Miami was third.

Apparently with few expectations, Love had this to say: "For me to come out and win this means a lot."

Parker has the skills

Tony Parker of San Antonio won the skills competition, an obstacle course that shows how well you can do the chest pass, bounce pass, top-of-the-key shot and outlet pass. Rajon Rondo of Boston was second and Deron Williams of New Jersey was third.

You don't hear this every day from an NBA player: "For me the bounce pass is key," Parker said. "If you can make the bounce pass, you're good."

Team New York

In Saturday's first event, the New York team of Allan Houston, Landry Fields and Cappie Pondexter beat Team Texas, made up of Kenny Smith, Chandler Parsons and Sophia Young. The event required the team to make shots from various spots on the court.

Team Atlanta finished third and Team Orlando was fourth.

Pondexter actually said this: "This is great for our organization, just taking momentum back to the second half of the season."

john.cherwa@latimes.com

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