Durant loves competing against James
OLD LeBRON?: James has never competed in the slam-dunk contest on All-Star Weekend. Asked Friday if he ever will, James said he thinks his window of opportunity may have passed.
He's only 28, but playing his 10th NBA season.
"I'm getting older," he said. "It ain't looking good."
Dwight Howard, who competed multiple times and won a dunk contest, had another theory for why some players won't give it a try.
"I think for us, the reason why a lot of us don't participate is because we do so much during All-Star weekend, by the time we get to the dunk contest we have no legs," he said. "When you do the dunk contest, you want to have your legs, you want to be ready to go because you want to put on a good show for our fans. So I think some guys, I think they don't want to get embarrassed in the dunk contest, so they just choose not to do it."
PAYTON VS. JORDAN: Back in the day, Gary Payton relished the opportunity to guard Michael Jordan.
Payton was selected as a finalist for election to the Hall of Fame on Friday, kicking off All-Star Weekend in Houston. Jordan, meanwhile, turns 50 on Sunday, and the league is planning a tribute.
"I've got a lot of memories for him," Payton said, smiling. "We always had great battles. That's what brought it out of me. He and John Stockton were the two guys I always looked forward to playing against because I knew I was going to learn something."
Payton's Seattle team faced Jordan's Chicago squad in the 1996 NBA Finals, after the Bulls had rolled to a league-record 72 wins in the regular season. The Bulls stormed to a 3-0 lead in the series, but the Sonics won the next two games.
Payton, known as "The Glove" for his defensive ability, guarded Scottie Pippen early in the series. Seattle coach George Karl put Payton on Jordan in Game 3.
"The only thing I remember is we got down 3-0," Payton said. "We got into a hole and we came back and won two. I wish I could've guarded him earlier. I didn't guard him in the first three (games). It probably would've been a better series, I don't know."
Jordan had 22 points and seven assists in Game 6 and the Bulls won their fourth championship. While Jordan won their championship matchup, Payton said when it came to trash talking, Jordan was no match for him.
"Mike didn't really talk any trash," Payton said. "The only guy who can probably get close to me is probably Larry Bird. And Reggie Miller. They're the only ones who can come close to me, and I think I'm No. 1."
JUDGES ANNOUNCED: Saturday night's Slam Dunk competition will have a major hometown feel with five former Houston Rockets stars scheduled to judge the contest.
Clyde Drexler, Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich and Yao Ming will do the scoring for the contest's first round.
The two-round competition includes 2012 winner Jeremy Evans from the Utah Jazz, Denver's Kenneth Faried, Eric Bledsoe from the Los Angeles Clippers, Indiana's Gerald Green, Terrence Ross from the Raptors and James White from the Knicks.
AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan contributed to this report.
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