HOUSTON _ Kobe Bryant, while speaking Friday during the NBA All-Star Weekend media session, credited Lakers owner Jerry Buss with helping change the future of the league.
Buss, who has been hospitalized with cancer, has won 10 NBA championships since buying the team in 1979.
Bryant struggled to articulate Buss' imprint on the game of basketball.
"It's beyond measure," Bryant said. "I don't think there's any way to really define it. What he's done, it's tough to really find a match for that in any sport. He's been a model of consistency."
The Lakers have reached the playoffs 31 times in 33 years with Buss as owner.
Bryant said he and the game of basketball owe a lot to Buss.
"He's meant everything to me in my career, taking a risk on a 17-year-old kid coming out of high school and believing in me my entire career," he said. "For the game itself, the brand of basketball, 'Showtime' carried the league. You think about the rivalry that took place between the Lakers and the Celtics, and what that did for the global outreach of the game.
"It reached me, and I was in Italy. "
Clippers forward Blake Griffin knows something about exciting dunk contests. In 2011, Griffin stole the show by dunking over a Kia at Staples Center to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
And when he looks at this year's field, which includes teammate Eric Bledsoe, he sees potential for big things tonight.
"I'm excited for it," he said Friday.
Bledsoe's excited too, and he met with the press and delivered a bit of a teaser.
"I got something pretty interesting, pretty exciting for the fans," Beldsoe said. "It's going to be classic."
The Clippers' third-year guard has never been in a dunk contest before, but he's gotten a bunch of advice from teammates and coaches. Clippers assistant Robert Pack finished second in the 1994 contest and has advised Bledsoe.
Bledsoe said Vince Carter's arm-through-the-rim dunk in the 2000 dunk contest is his favorite dunk, and Bledsoe said he could imitate Carter.
But don't expect it.
"I'm short," he said. "I don't want to break my arm."
Griffin said this is a chance for Bledsoe to really raise his profile as an NBA player.
"This is a pretty big stage to go out there and put on a show," Griffin said. "People want to see great dunks, and he can do great dunks. This is a great opportunity for him.
HOWARD IGNORES RUMOR
Lakers center Dwight Howard was peppered with questions about his future during a media session. Howard didn't bite, though.
"I want to have fun and I want to enjoy myself and not talk about free agency or where I'm going to be at the end of the season," he said.
Howard's in the final year of his contract, and the Lakers' struggles have prompted rumors that they could explore moving Howard before Thursday's trade deadline.
Howard doesn't expect that to happen, though.
"Would I be surprised? They told me they weren't going to trade me, so I'd be surprised." Howard said.
Howard said Friday that having fun on the court makes him happy. He was then asked if he's having as much fun this year.
"At the present time, no," he said.