Zach's the Dunk Dude
It has been a long climb for Stephen Curry from a frustrating rookie season with the Golden State Warriors to top-vote getter for the NBA All-Star Game (this morning, Singapore time).
The sweet-shooting guard from Davidson College suffered through a 26-56 season with the Warriors after being the seventh pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, but goes into Madison Square Garden as the floor leader of the NBA's top team at 42-9.
"I had very high expectations, a dream," the 1.90m Curry said after practice with the East All-Stars.
"You never know how it's going to unfold and take place. That's the fun part about the journey.
"And I'm still not anywhere near what I want to achieve. That's what keeps me hungry and driven to keep going."
His unerring shooting ability was on full display when he won the three-point shoot-out contest, making 13 shots in a row near the end, finishing with a record 27 points in a terrific perimeter display.
Ten days after hitting 10 three-pointers and scoring 51 points against the Dallas Mavericks, Curry was just as brilliant in his fourth appearance in the event, part of the NBA All-Star weekend.
His total eclipsed the previous record of 25 set by Jason Kapono in 2008.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was a distant second on 17 points, with Curry's teammate, Klay Thompson, third with 14 points.
Curry has averaged 23.6 points, 7.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and a league-leading 2.2 steals for the high-flying Warriors and received 42,000 more votes than LeBron James as top All-Star vote-getter.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who is directing the All-Star West team, said Curry deserves frontline consideration as the league's Most Valuable Player.
"Steph is definitely one of the leading candidates," said Kerr.
"He's great at both ends. His defence is underrated, he's been really good defensively.
"He's obviously an amazing shooter, but it's not just the shots. The penetration, the ball handling, the constant threat that he poses opens other things up for his teammates. He's a phenomenal player."
Kerr said Curry, the son of former Charlotte Hornets player Dell Curry, had answered doubters who questioned whether he could excel in the NBA given his willowy physique.
"He's much stronger, faster and quicker than people realise," said Kerr.
"The opponents realise it, they feel it."
Curry will be starting in the backcourt with his Warriors running mate Thompson, stepping in for the injured Kobe Bryant. He said he was fully enjoying all the success.
"We're doing things that haven't been done in our franchise for 25 years," said Curry.
"It's crazy to think about, as the longest tenured Warrior, and I've seen the transformation from my rookie year to now.
"It's pretty special."
He's a Slam Dunk!
Minnesota's teenage rookie Zach LaVine came up with some high-flying fireworks to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest yesterday morning (Singapore time), part of the league's All-Star weekend festivities.
LaVine, 19, scored a perfect 100 in the opening round in which he wowed the crowd at the Brooklyn Nets' Barclays Center arena with a through-the-legs, one-handed reverse dunk.
He followed up with a behind-the-back slam off a ball he tossed up himself.
In the championship round, he defeated the Orlando Magic's Victor Oladipo with two more between-the-legs slams that earned 94 points.
LaVine became the second-youngest winner of the competition. Kobe Bryant won it in 1997 at the age of 18. - AFP.