CHICAGO – On the only day Luka Doncic wasn’t part of the NBA’s three-day All-Star Weekend, the Dallas Mavericks’ point guard still was a topic of conversation.
During his annual press conference on Saturday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver – without being asked – repeated a conversation he had with Doncic. Silver was in the middle of discussing the late Kobe Bryant when he slightly veered off course.
“Luka Doncic told me recently that he was being trash-talked courtside at a Lakers’ game earlier in the season,” Silver said. “He looked over and there was Kobe (talking) in Slovenian trash-talking him with his wonderful daughter, Gigi, by his side.”
That incident occurred when the Mavs played the Lakers in Los Angeles on Dec. 29. Less than a month later, Bryant, his daughter, Gigi, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Southern California.
All weekend long, the NBA has been honoring Bryant and former NBA commissioner David Stern, who died on New Year’s Day shortly after suffering a brain hemorrhage.
Of Bryant, Silver said: “Kobe, in his post-playing career, we got to be particularly close. In fact, when we were in Los Angeles two years ago, there’s this tech conference we’ve been doing for 20 years now at All-Star games.
“Kobe spoke about his love of storytelling and a reminder to all of us in the business how important it is to tell those stories to bring these players to life and to help people understand the game. Then, two weeks after that presentation at our technology summit, he actually won an Academy Award for storytelling for his short on Dear Basketball.”
As far as Stern goes, Silver worked closely with him for more than 22 years before replacing Stern as the NBA commissioner in 2014.
“I would just say he became not only my mentor, but an incredibly close friend,” Silver said. “He was there when I got married.
“He was one of the first people to hug my daughter when she was born. I remain very close to his wife, Dianne, and his two children, Andrew and Eric, and it’s a huge loss certainly for the league.”
Briefly: Sacramento’s Buddy Hield captured the 3-Point Contest in dramatic fashion. Trailing Devin Booker of Phoenix by one point with just one basketball remaining on his last rack, Hield drained the two-point money ball to win the contest, 27-26. On winning it all on a last-second shot, Hield said: “As a shooter this is on your bucket list. With a stacked field like that, it makes it even better. Pressure is on, and you’ve got to show up.”. . . A long shot to take home the top prize, Miami’s Bam Adebayo won the Skills Challenge. He said he’s going to give the trophy to his mother. “She might cry, because it’s a big deal,” Adebayo said. “This isn’t something that just passes along. I know it’s All-Star Weekend and we’re all having fun, but it’s competition at the end of the day.”. . . More drama unfolded in the Slam Dunk contest as Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. won a high-flying dunk-off against Orlando’s Aaron Gordon. The duo kept going and going by punctuating the night with one perfect 50-point dunk after another. Then, the door opened when Jones only scored 48 on his last dunk of the night. After that, Gordon wowed the crowd when he dunked over 7-5 Tacko Fall of the Boston Celtics. However, the judges weren’t overly impressed as they gave Gordon a 47, leaving Gordon stunned, the crowd booing, and Jones the winner. “It was great competition,” Jones said. “We were out here putting on a show for the fans and just doing what we were supposed to do.”