By: Ian Wixted
Welcome to a new segment of the blog where we analyze a topic to see if the right decisions were made, and ultimately if they got it right. Now, the “they” in the question will change from subject to subject, and this time the “they” in the question are the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest judges. Did they get the outcome of the championship right? Or was this the greatest robbery Toronto has seen since the days of the Boyd Gang? We’ll answer that right here.
NBA All Star Weekend was filled with entertainment this year. We saw the West overcome the East for the second straight year, we saw Karl-Anthony Towns, the first overall draft pick, win the skills challenge when it was the first year they allowed big men to enter. The Splash Brothers Showdown brought excitement watching defending champion Steph Curry go up against teammate and Splash brethren Klay Thompson, with Thompson dethroning Curry in the finals. But the biggest draw of the weekend was undoubtedly the Dunk Contest.
It was known very early in the contest that it would come down to two men: defending champion Zach LaVine and new-comer Aaron Gordon. A back-and-forth dunk fest the likes we haven’t seen since MJ/Dominique or Tracy McGrady/Vinsanity, these two young dudes put on a show for the Toronto crowd. 50s were being tossed out like bad leftovers, the judges had their hands full during the championship round. You know it’s a tough night to judge when you get booed for giving a dunk a 9 like Shaq did, but the man was right, you can’t get a perfect score if the dunk wasn’t made on the first attempt. After it was all said and done, Zach LaVine still stands as the Dunk Contest Champion, but the question still remains: Did They Get it Right?
Aaron Gordon – To start off his night, A-A Ron came out stuntin’ in a suit before he stunted on court. This between the legs reverse dunk was the precursor for the night, letting everyone know what they were about to get into. Gordon got a solid 45 from the judges and was amped up for his second attempt.
Zach LaVine – Coming in as defending champion, you have the upper hand in the early rounds by going last, and Zach LaVine used all of that upper hand to give us the first 50 of the night! With a little toss to himself, LaVine hit us with a remix of a dunk he made in last year’s contest. This behind the back one-handed reverse got the Canadian crowd bumpin’ and looked so effortlessly. It only gets better from here
Aaron Gordon – This is where the themes of the night started. With his second dunk, Aaron Gordon called on a friend, the Magic’s very own Stuff the Magic Dragon (theme), to help assist him. Riding on one of those “fake” hoverboards, Stuff held the ball over his head while Gordon took off from the sideline. With one giant leap, Aaron took the ball from Stuff’s hand, put it between the legs and jammed that sucka home! The score for this was a 49 (Shaq was the only judge who gave a 9). This dunk was the beginning of a rivalry and the moment when LaVine realized he had some competition, also left him with this face:
Zach LaVine – Looking for back-to-back 50s, Zach’s second dunk started his theme for the night: foul line attempts. Soaring from the foul line, LaVine took an oop from a teammate and flushed down this monstrous jam. Foul line attempts are nothing new in the Dunk Contest, but making it an ally-oop certainly is! Not making it on his first attempt cost LaVine a perfect 50, receiving a 49, thanks again to the Shaqtus. But a 49 still leaves Mutumbo looking like this:
Aaron Gordon – The championship round! Gordon knew that to knock off the reigning champ in the finals he would have to bring something the world has never seen before. Once again calling on Stuff to help with the dunk, Stuff started to spin on his hoverboad and Gordon timed it perfectly to do a spin of his own. Stuff turning one way, Gordon the opposite, he grabbed the ball from Stuff’s hand and posed for the camera with his hand behind his head all while spinning 360°. The “Mailman Slam” earned Gordon his first 50 of the night and left us with the best reaction from the night:
Zach LaVine – This dunk was a little underwhelming for LaVine’s standards. It was a great looking 360 dunk but it was basically a version of Gordon’s dunk just without the help of a mascot. Still this dunk gave LaVine a 50, and the two combatants were all tied after the first round of the finals.
Aaron Gordon – GAME OVER! How did the night not end right here? Drop the confetti, standing ovation, give the man his trophy! That’s what should have happened after everyone in the arena jaw’s dropped simultaneously. I mean the man just took a seat in mid-air, not to mention jumping over a dragon while putting a basketball under both legs! 50s on 50s on 50s!
Zach LaVine – After having the arena’s roof blown off, Zach LaVine knew he had to come correct with his 4th dunk of the night. Using his theme of the foul line, Zach left his feet a step inward from the line and threw down a serious Windmill jam that gave him three 50s for the night and left us all looking like this:
Aaron Gordon – Going into uncharted territory with the 5th dunk attempt, Gordon had to dig in the magic bag of tricks to hit us with this two-handed reverse off the side of the backboard. Nothing too flashy here, just a solid dunk and another solid 50 on the scoreboard.
Zach LaVine – Time to improvise! At this point in the contest, Zach LaVine used up all his premeditated dunks and had to think on the fly. Tossing in the ball from the baseline, LaVine put the ball between the legs for a reverse slam. Another solid dunk that on any other night might have brought home the trophy, but this night was only good for saving the title.
Aaron Gordon – It all came down to this dunk. The sixth and final dunk of the night. Both competitors were tired, physically and mentally, but still had to come up with and finish one last dunk. To the untrained eye, Aaron Gordon’s last dunk looked like a dunk we’ve seen before in the Dunk Contest, but what slow motion showed us it was much more than that. He started by putting the ball completely behind his head, changed his mind mid-dunk, brought the ball back down to his legs and delivered a reverse dunk. This dunk only got a 47 from the judges and ultimately sealed the fate of Gordon.
Zach LaVine – With only a 47 to beat, Zach knew he had a chance to be a repeating champion. With his final dunk of the night, LaVine went back to his trusted theme of the night and gave us all something we haven’t seen before. A between the legs dunk from the foul line?! This dunk was definetly better than Gordon’s last dunk, which gave LaVine his second title in as many years, but still didn’t compare with Gordon’s ‘Take a Seat’ dunk.
And with all that broken down, did Zach LaVine truly earn the win of Dunk Contest Champion or was Aaron Gordon robbed of his first title? No matter what your feelings are, Zach LaVine put on a show and is your 2016 Dunk Contest Champion. The judges’ scorecards are the only thing worth weight in the Dunk Contest but the question remains:
Did They Get it Right?