CHICAGO — Not a single Knicks player took a shot on NBA All-Star Saturday Night, but shots were taken at them.
Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie was more than happy to use his time at the microphone to needle the crosstown rival Knicks. While the Knicks’ struggles have been well-chronicled, Dinwiddie was more than willing to critique their past, present and future problems — although he did give them some credit.
“I’ve said this before. We’ll never take over the Knicks,” said Dinwiddie, who competed in the Skills Competition on Saturday night. “That’s not going to happen. They’re too entrenched in what it means. Madison Square Garden, Rucker Park, that type of vibe.
“But in terms of being a better basketball team, that happened a minute ago. That’s not new. We’re a better basketball team than the Knicks. We were last year. Probably will be next year. It kind of is what it is. So I know Knicks fans are going to get mad, but that is the truth.”
Asked if the Knicks might be able to turn it around next season, Dinwiddie smiled.
“You want a real answer?” he asked. “Probably not. They’ll probably have a high draft pick. Unless they do something via trade or via free agency, which I don’t know if this free-agency class is that spectacular, they’re probably not going to be that good. We’ll see. I can’t tell the future. But more than likely, I mean Kevin Durant is coming back [for the Nets]. And he’s Kevin Durant. He’s really good.”
Dinwiddie spoke on a wide range of topics before his turn in the Skill Competition — in which he was knocked out in the first round by Miami’s Bam Adebayo. Asked who the biggest snub was from the All-Star Game, he smiled and said, “Me.”
Jones wins Slam title
After Adebayo took the Skills title, he served as a prop for teammate Derrick Jones Jr., who positioned him far from the rim and leaped over him for his first dunk of the night. The Bucks’ Pat Connaughton, dressed as Billy Hoyle from the movie "White Men Can’t Jump,'' jumped over the Brewers’ Christian Yelich for a dunk.
But that was just a warmup as Jones and Aaron Gordon went into overtime sessions. Jones followed that first dunk with four consecutive perfect scores. Gordon started his night with five straight perfect 50-point scores and needed one more to keep the competition going.
This time Jones finally wavered as he attempted to jump from the foul line, mimicking Michael Jordan’s foul line flight. He made the dunk but stepped inside the line and was given a 48. Gordon, set for his first win, completed the night by coaxing 7-5 Tacko Fall out of the stands and leaping over him for the dunk. The judges gave him two 10s and three 9s, giving him a 47 and delivering the title to Jones.
"When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing that since high school, and I know that's 50-worthy," Jones said. "There's no way I should have got a 48. He clipped Tacko's head when he did that dunk, so I knew they couldn't have gave him a 50 for that one. I would have respected it if they gave him another 48, so we can go again."
“What are we doing, man?” Gordon asked. “Who set the dunk contest up, who set this up?”
Dwight Howard, back in the competition at 34 years old and after years of back problems, was thrilled just to be a part of it even though he was knocked out in the opening round.
“I enjoy dunking,” Howard said in the morning. “I’ve been dunking my whole life, basically. Last summer I had a chance to have a Dunk Contest with an actual street dunker on Venice Beach, and after we finished dunking, I was like, 'Man, that felt really good to really get the crowd into it and just enjoy dunking a basketball again.' I was super-surprised that I was able to get up and dunk like that.
“So I said, from that moment on, I’m going to try to get myself ready for the dunk contest. And here we are here today. This is great.”
Nets come up empty
In Dinwiddie and Joe Harris, the Nets had former champions in their events, but just as Dinwiddie was a first-round out in the Skills Challenge, Harris was eliminated in the opening round of the Three-Point Shootout.
Adebayo won the Skills Challenge, defeating Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis.
“Go look at the tape,” Adebayo said. “I told Spencer I’m going to be the champion. We were walking in and I told Spencer I was going to be a champion. He took me lightly. Now I’m the champion. I got a shiny medal.
“It just shows where this league is going and it’s scary because when you got guys that are 6-10, classified as centers or power forwards, I don’t believe it’s any of that anymore. I mean [Kevin Durant] is 7-foot, so is KD a center?”
Sacramento’s Buddy Hield took the Three-Point Shootout title after being knocked out in the finals last year.