Bird, Catchings, Rose and Miller among honorees at NBA Legends Brunch (2024)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Larry Bird is officially a legend, Tamika Catchings was overwhelmed, Jalen Rose was moved to tears and Reggie Miller hugged his former antagonist Spike Lee.

As always, the NBA Legends Brunch was not lacking for moments.

The brunch — held on Sunday before the All-Star Game and one of the tougher tickets to get over the course of the weekend — brought together more than 150 former NBA and WNBA players and some of the greatest ever like Julius Erving, Dominique Wilkins and Oscar Robertson.

Bird received the Legend of the Year award, Catchings received the Pioneer Award, Rose got the Bob Lanier Community Impact Award and Miller won the Hometown Hero Award.


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“I have not hit a jump shot in more than 30 years and here I am,” Bird said after taking the stage. “Come on.”

Catchings, an Indiana Fever legend, was introduced by her father, former NBA player Harvey Catchings. He told stories about how when they would play she always wanted to keep going, how games to five points weren’t enough for her — and how he never let her win.

“I come standing here today because of all of you and being able to watch my dad and emulate him,” Tamika Catchings said. “While he was in practice, we’d be back there and I was Dr. J and I was Harvey Catchings and I was the late Bob Lanier. Larry Bird, come on now. I got to be all of you guys. And over the years, by emulating your game, I found my own game.”

Rose tearfully told the story of riding in his mother’s 1979 Chrysler around the time he was in fourth grade, moving a floor mat and seeing a hole in the floorboards. He said that was the moment that he vowed to make it big by making it to the NBA.

“I’ll never forget saying to my mother, ‘I’m going to make it to the league. I promise,’” Rose said. “’I’m going to be Dr. J. I promise.’ … And now Dr. J knows my name.”

Miller was presented with his trophy by Lee, dressed in blue and orange — the colors of his favorite team, the New York Knicks, the team that was often victimized by Miller and the Pacers. Most famously when Miller scored eight points in nine seconds to win a game at Madison Square Garden.

“I don’t consider myself a legend, not amongst the people that are in this room,” Miller said.


Julius Erving wants to see more big names in the dunk contest.

Mac McClung of the G League’s Osceola Magic won the event for the second consecutive year on Saturday night, beating Boston’s Jaylen Brown, New York’s Jacob Toppin and Miami rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr.

It was a far cry from the old days. What’s recognized as the inaugural dunk contest took place in 1976 at the ABA’s All-Star Game, featuring five big names -- Artis Gilmore, George Gervin, Larry Kenon, David Thompson and Erving.

“I think the fans would like to see the bigger-name players out there,” Erving said. “With all due respect to the guys who are in the dunk contest, the big names are in the 3-point shootout. The big names are in the skills competition.”

Added Spencer Haywood, also appearing with Erving on a panel to discuss the ABA’s history when the dunk contest topic came up: “They would love it,” he said, referring to the fans. “We were never afraid of losing.”

It has been a talking point in the NBA for years about how biggest stars tend to pass on the dunk contest. Brown was the first All-Star to take part in the contest since 2018.


All-Star Saturday Night — headlined by the Stephen Curry vs. Sabrina Ionescu 3-point contest — had 10 million unique viewers in the U.S., the NBA said.

That’s the most in four years and represented a 54% increase from last year.


Team Earn Your Leisure won the title at the G League Up Next games on Sunday, going 2-0 in the four-team tournament.

Orlando two-way player Trevelin Queen — who has appeared in 30 NBA games, 13 of them this season with the Magic — won tournament MVP honors. He’s also a past G League champion, G League MVP and G League Finals MVP.


There are no games Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday in the NBA. The season resumes Thursday night with 12 games, then 10 more on Friday.

The six teams that have to wait until Friday to resume games: Miami, Atlanta, Memphis, Portland, Milwaukee and Minnesota. And oddly, the Bucks and Timberwolves — with the All-Star Game coaches, Milwaukee’s Doc Rivers and Minnesota’s Chris Finch — open their post-All-Star slates against one another.



Bird, Catchings, Rose and Miller among honorees at NBA Legends Brunch (2024)
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