LaVine wins NBA slam dunk contest
The competition gets praise on social media as one of the best dunk contests in NBA All-Star historyIn a stunning contest that will go down as one of the most memorable nights in NBA All-Star Weekend, Zach LaVine has won the Slam Dunk contest for the second year in a row in Toronto.
LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who won the Rising Stars Challenge competition on Friday, faced Orlando Magic's forward Aaron Gordon in the final round of the dunk contest Saturday, and received 50 full points from five jury members for four consecutive times.
Although the final round of the contest is based on two dunk attempts for each player, the tie was not broken for an additional two attempts, as both stars awed the fans in the stands and around the world.
Commentators for the U.S.' TNT television, together with prominent figures of NBA and fans on social media, praised the competition as one of the best slam dunk contests ever in the All-Star Weekend history.
Dominique Wilkins, retired NBA legend and two time champion of the contest, tweeted: "The dunk contest is back!!!", while Micky Arison, owner of NBA's Miami Heat team, tweeted: "The NBA should have let them share that trophy. One of the best NBA Dunk Contest ever."
Meanwhile, in another event Saturday, Klay Thompson from the Golden State Warriors won the three-point competition. Thompson beat his teammate and former winner of the contest Stephen Curry by 27 to 23 in the final round to lift the trophy.
In addition, Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves won the skills challenge contest. Towns, who was a first overall draft pick in NBA last year, beat the Boston Celtics' Isaiah Thomas in an exciting head-to-head showdown.
Commissioner thanks Kobe Bryant
Prior to the three events, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver held a press conference and thanked Kobe Bryant, the veteran who is planning to retire at the end of this season, for his contribution to the game of basketball and helping NBA to attain a global reach.
"I don't think there is any doubt that he'll go down as one of the greatest players ever to play this game," Silver praised Bryant who will also make his final appearance on Sunday at the 65th All-Star game.
"In addition to being a great player, he's punched way above his weight in terms of the impact he's had on the global expansion of the NBA," he added.
This is the 20th NBA season for Bryant, 37, who has won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and was chosen the most valuable player of the league in 2008. He has won two gold medals in the Olympics with Team U.S.A. in 2008 and 2012.
Sunday's competition will mark his 18th consecutive selection to an All-Star game, which is a league record.