NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 13: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during media availability at 2015 NBA All Star Weekend on February 13, 2015 in New York. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger/NBAE via Getty Images)
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February 13, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Dominique Wilkins remembers a time not so long ago when the most-anticipated event during NBA All-Star weekend was the dunk contest, how fans looked forward to his duels with Michael Jordan and what creative slam they would come up with next.


''It's different,'' he said Friday, drawing laughs from a crowd of reporters that surrounded him in a large hotel ballroom in midtown Manhattan. ''We never used props. I jumped over a car when I was a kid.''

Indeed, the days when the Human Highlight Film joined Air Jordan in a battle with a ball and a 10-foot hoop are long gone. Many of the game's most notable names never participate in the dunk contest anymore, and this year's field - Giannis Antetokounmpo, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee and Zach LaVine - has little hype heading into Saturday night's event at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

Instead, this may be a rare year when the 3-point contest has more appeal.

Golden State Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are headlining the event with Atlanta's Kyle Korver, Houston's James Harden and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Portland's Wesley Matthews, the Los Angeles Clippers' J.J. Redick and defending champion Marco Belinelli of San Antonio.

''It definitely should be one of the most fun parts of the weekend,'' Curry said.

Part of the extra intrigue is because the 3-point shot has never been more celebrated than it is now. The NBA has become an outside-inside league, where spreading the floor with shooters and moving the ball is all the rage.

And unlike the dunk contest, the best are participating in the 3-point shootout again.

''It seemed like there was a three- or four-year stretch where they were just getting random dudes, like, `Oh, you're coming to All-Star weekend? You can be in the 3-point contest!''' Redick said. ''I was hoping this year they wouldn't invite (Nets center) Mason Plumlee, and they didn't. The field is great on paper. I do feel like it's the best competition ever. It has that feel.''


SCHEDULE CHANGES: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wants to give his players a big assist and lighten their workload.

One of the chief complaints Silver heard during his rookie season on the job was about a condensed schedule that requires teams to play games on consecutive nights and sometimes as many as four games in five nights. Combined with travel, the busy schedule is taking a toll on players' health, which in turn weakens the product.

''My goal for next season is to reduce the number of back-to-backs,'' Silver said. ''And then I don't know if I can completely eliminate four games in five nights, but bring that as close to zero as I can.''

Silver made the comments while attending an NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service at Graphics Campus along with All-Stars LeBron James and Curry, who spent time shooting and doing drills with school kids.

Silver said the feedback he has received from players and teams prompted him to take a closer look at alleviating the 82-game regular-season schedule.

''We want players to be in optimal condition when they're playing those games,'' Silver said. ''Part of it is a mathematical formula: There's so many games in so many days in which to get those games in. Having said that, there are steps we are taking even moving into next season where we hope to reduce the number of back-to-backs and hopefully come close to eliminating the four games in five nights.''

Silver said the league intends to work closely with arenas to create more flexibility with the schedule.


RUNNER-UP STATUS: James doesn't like to finish second in anything. Ever.

But the Cavaliers superstar conceded Friday that he's currently behind Curry - and maybe Harden - in this season's MVP race.

''He and James have been doing some great things,'' James, a four-time league MVP, said of Curry. ''You look at he's playing and you can't dispute that.''

Curry was the leading vote-getter among fans for this year's All-Star game, beating out James, who remains the game's most popular player. Curry is averaging 23.6 points, 7.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds for the Warriors, who are a league-best 42-9 and atop the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

''Those guys are rolling and it's because of him,'' James said.

As for James, who returned to Cleveland after four seasons in Miami, he's pleased where the Cavaliers find themselves at the break following a sluggish start.

''Right now, I think we're where we should be,'' he said of the Cavs, who are 33-22 at the break after winning 14 of 16. ''I knew it was going to take us a couple months to get where I wanted it to be. At times it was frustrating, but I knew the process because I've been a part of it before and I understand how important the process is to creating a team.''


VOTING FOR MVP: Reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant didn't want to divulge his favorite for this season's award. He did, however, have plenty of opinions about the process.

For starters, Durant believes players should vote on the award instead of media.

''We know these guys. We battle against these guys every night. We know what they say on the court. We know how they handle their teammates. We know how they approach the game. Our vote should count. Our opinions should count,'' he said.

Durant also disagreed with how certain players are popular picks some years but not others. He noted how Curry and Harden are receiving more attention for MVP this season, saying both have been playing at an elite level for years and should've been in the conversation with him and James previously.

''I think the MVP is a lot about narratives and what may happen during that time,'' he said. ''There are a lot of guys who have been playing extremely well for years and years and are just starting to get MVP consideration. I think that consistent play sometimes gets a little boring to people.''


REPLACING DAVIS: Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who is leading the Western Conference, said he hasn't decided who he'll start in place of injured big man Anthony Davis. One possibility is Kerr's former teammate with the San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan, who is making his 15th and possibly last All-Star appearance.

''I joked with him that I may play him 40 minutes just to wear him out,'' Kerr said.

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