At 34, Larry Nance is the oldest of the...

SALT LAKE CITY --

February 22, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

SALT LAKE CITY -- At 34, Larry Nance is the oldest of the 1993 NBA All-Stars. But the Cleveland Cavaliers forward may be best remembered for winning the first All-Star Slam-Dunk competition when he was a young forward with the Phoenix Suns in 1984.

"After that, they wanted me to be in the dunking competitio every year," Nance said. "At first, I didn't want to go because people began looking at me as a guy who could only dunk. I wanted to be viewed as an overall player."

He has been a starter since 1988, when the Suns traded him to Cleveland for Kevin Johnson, Mark West and Tyrone Corbin. After the trade, the former Clemson star's game blossomed.

"He really expanded his game," said Cavaliers coach Lenn Wilkens. "When he first came to us, I thought he was a pretty good jump shooter, but he was reluctant to shoot outside. I almost had to force him to take it."

Nance then took the next step, improving his inside moves, an now has an impressive repertoire of shots. He is averaging 16.9

points and 8.9 rebounds at the All-Star break.

. . . and the current champ

Leading from his opening slam, former Southern Cal star Harold Miner posted scores of 47.0, 48.0 and 49.4 on his final three dunks for

a total of 97.4 to win Saturday's event. That edged out fellow rookie Clarence Weatherspoon of Philadelphia, who finished with and easily out-distanced defending champion Cedric Ceballos of Phoenix.

Ceballos had wowed the judges last year by concluding hi dunking exhibition with a blindfolded slam. This year, all props were outlawed and most of the dunks had a repetitious quality.

But Miner, who finished the night with a powerful left-hande windmill slam, was well prepared.

"I've always been a student of this game," he said. "I've studie hours of the superstars making dunks. I borrowed a little from each of them and combined them into my own style.

"With two of my all-time heroes -- [Michael] Jordan an Dominique Wilkins here watching -- I didn't want to be conservative. I tried to be as creative as possible to get the crowd excited."

Home cooking

Utah Jazz guard Jeff Malone won the Shooting Stars Showdown over the Golden State Warriors' Tim Hardaway, Indiana Pacers' Reggie Miller and Portland Trail Blazers' Clyde Drexler with an unorthodox shot that he often practices in shoot-arounds.

Malone, a former Bullet, converted an out-of-bounds, over-th backboard shot that his rivals could not equal.

"I make that shot all the time in practice," said Malone, one of the league's best shooters.

Love letters

Jazz president Frank Layden, who coached the team before turning the reins over to Jerry Sloan, is a man for all seasons.

Frank and his wife, Barbara, have been signed for the leading roles in the play "Love Letters" that will be performed six nights at the Salt Lake Acting Co.'s benefit, starting April 5.

"When the guy from the theater came to my house, I thought h was looking for a donation," said Layden. "Instead, he offered me a job. But this play will be the beginning and end for me. And if they want to bring in Tracy and Hepburn at the last minute, I won't object."

Beating the press

Despite a certain league fine, Michael Jordan defended his decision to skip Friday's All-Star media session in favor of a golf date in Las Vegas.

"I shot a couple of good rounds," said Jordan. "I just don't thin it's necessary seeing the press two straight days. They only ask the same old questions."

Balderdash

Suns superstar Charles Barkley was presented with a huge birthday cake Saturday commemorating his 30th birthday. Seattle's Shawn Kemp, 23, rubbed Barkley's head for good luck, "and to show Charles what it was like to still have hair."

Canada next on schedule?

Toronto may be the next city, and the first outside the United States, awarded an NBA franchise.

The league's expansion committee met yesterday, and, according to a news statement "indicated that it was favorably disposed toward expanding to Canada."

The only Canadian group to have applied for a franchise is the Toronto-based Palestra Group, headed by businessman Lawrence Tanenbaum. The league said it does expect to receive applications from other interested Canadian parties.

The committee doesn't expect any expansion to take place before the 1995-96 season.

hd: Nance has dunked his old image

First champ offers much more at 34

All-Star notebook

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