Larry Nance Jr. sees a bright future for his Northwestern-bound brother

By Patrick Engel
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – Larry Nance Jr.’s life is pretty good these days.

He plays alongside LeBron James for his home state’s NBA team. He moved from a team out of the playoff picture to one that, with the addition of him and a few others, looks like title contenders once again.

Nance participated in the Verizon Slam Dunk contest Saturday night, and narrowly missed winning. It’s same event his father, Larry Sr., ushered into basketball popularity with a victory in the inaugural version in 1984. The younger Nance spent countless hours watching clips of it when he was younger.

“For me, that was like Sesame Street,” Larry Jr. said earlier Saturday.

He admits, though, he has one shortcoming compared with another member of his family.

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Most memorable moments from the NBA Celebrity Game

By Jourdan Kerl and Brianna Williams
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – The 2018 NBA Celebrity Game pit some of the most recognizable names against one another for bragging rights and a possible MVP selection by fan vote. Late additions Justin Bieber and Quavo of the rap group Migos would play for Team Lakers and Team Clippers, respectively, and they proved to be the main attractions for the event.

“If we was on the same team, we would’ve been the greatest 1-2 punch ever,” Quavo said.

While the two would not play together in this All-Star event, other individual moments throughout the competitive game became equally as memorable for attendees as their guest appearances. In the end for many of the players, the goal was to raise money for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which received $20,000 from Ruffles at the event.

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For a coach from Lompoc, the Special Olympic’s Unified Game is the culmination of a journey

Jonathan Skinner
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – As Eddie Scipio and his basketball team from Lompoc, California participated in the NBA Special Olympics Unified game Saturday, he reflected on the journey that brought him there.

“When I played basketball in high school, they paired all of us up with special education students,” Scipio said, “and the relationship I built with my partner helped me find my calling.”

That calling would be to help students with and without intellectual disabilities work together. The journey would require him to leave his home of Pennsylvania and move to California.

Scipio came to California originally to play football in junior college then later accepted an offer to go to Brigham Young University to play. He would come back to California after a short stint at home in Pennsylvania and it was in Lompoc, California that his calling would be realized.

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Catching Up with All-Star Weekend’s Mascot Babysitter

By Daniel Comer
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – Several recognizable team mascots have entertained spectators throughout NBA All-Star Weekend, but who is the middle-aged man wearing 10 credentials and chasing them from event to event?

That would be Dominic Davila, 46, who is known in NBA circles as the mascot babysitter this weekend, a designation that doesn’t veer far from his official title of “mascot coordinator” with the Houston Rockets.

“The most difficult part about my job is getting grown men dressed,” Davila said. “It’s like dealing with a bunch of big babies on a candy rush.”

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Like father, like son: The NBA dunk contest is a family affair for Larry Nance Jr.

By Connor Yahn
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – Larry Nance Jr. failed to win the NBA Slam Dunk contest like his father did 34 years prior, but that doesn’t mean Saturday night wasn’t special for the Nance family.

On his first attempt of the competition, Nance Jr. wasted no time paying homage to his father’s iconic cradle dunk that vaulted him over Julius Erving in the inaugural 1984 contest.

Nance Jr. changed out of his Cleveland Cavaliers warmup gear at center court with the assistance of quick-change artists who had performed earlier in the evening. He emerged in his father’s retro Phoenix Suns’ uniform and proceeded to replicate the dunk he had seen countless times growing up as his father appeared to tear up courtside.

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Enjoying the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend on a budget

By Jourdan Kerl
Medill Reports

The price of Sunday night’s NBA All-Star game tickets rose to an average of $1,900 per seat but it did not stop thousands of fans from traveling across the globe to see the league’s top talent, even if they would not be seated in Staples Center.

Instead, they were in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, enjoying a budget All-Star experience.

Attendees could see the NBA on TNT Road Show and the NBA Crossover, both of which headlined the fan experiences at All-Star weekend. Diehard basketball fans and tourists will find similar activities to enjoy at future All-Star weekend sites, like Charlotte in 2019 and Chicago in 2020.
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Ben Simmons picked by NBA Rising Stars to be the next All-Star

By Serena Yeh
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – The Rising Stars are playing it nice.

Fourteen of the 2018 NBA Rising Stars Challenge players were asked over the All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles who they thought among them, excluding the player himself, would be the first to make the All-Star Game. And most were loyal to a fault.

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Changing of the guard: Hall of Fame announces 2018 finalists

By Robbie Weinstein
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES – As the NBA continues trending toward small ball, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s 13 finalists for 2018 include some of the league’s all-time great guards.

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Players weigh in: Who is the Rookie of the Year?

by Nathan Smith
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES — Two players have jumped out ahead in NBA Rookie of the Year race, but most of their peers can’t decide which one is in the lead.

Donovan Mitchell, the top scorer for a Jazz team rolling into the All-Star break on an 11-game winning streak, and Ben Simmons, the 76ers do-everything forward, were the go-to answers for first- and second-year players participating in the Rising Stars Challenge when asked who, if given a vote, were their favorites.

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NBA family delivers food, love at LA Food Bank

Athena Liu
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES — No matter if they play for different teams, at different levels or in different generations, when it comes to giving back to the community, the NBA unites as a family.

On Friday, NBA All-Stars Anthony Davis, Kemba Walker, Larry Nance Jr. and Eric Gordon joined NBA legends at Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to help assemble food boxes for individuals and families, especially seniors, who are still facing hunger in Los Angeles County.
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