By: Adam Pasternak
About two hours before the Slam Dunk contest took place last night, TNT analyst and NBA legend, Kenny Smith had actually said that the dunk contest should no longer be the final/main event of the All-Star Skills Competition. Many people, including me, agreed with him…until Zach Lavine vs. Aaron Gordon happened. Ladies and gentlemen, the Slam Dunk contest is back! The dunks that those two guys performed were unique and unheard of. In my opinion, it was probably the second best dunk contest of all time (after Vince in 2000, of course). They got everyone out of their seats, including my mother, and they proved why the Slam Dunk contest deserves to stay in the spotlight.
In an event where everyone thought it was Zach Lavine vs. Nobody, a young sophomore from the Orlando Magic took this opportunity to introduce himself to the NBA and its fans. For any hoop nerd like me who had followed Aaron Gordon since his high school days, his performance last night did not come as a surprise. He was once dubbed “The Next Blake Griffin”, and now we are starting to see why. He’s got the build, he’s got the swag, and now he’s got a legendary dunk contest performance to his name. The dunks that he pulled off in the final rounds were just insane. The degree of difficulty of essentially every dunk he did were very high, and he made it look incredibly easy. In my opinion, he should have won, but at the same time his counterpart was phenomenal as well.
Coming in as the defending champion and heavy favourite, Zach Lavine did not disappoint. We’ve seen Michael Jordan and others take off from the free throw line, but until last night we had not seen three different and unique dunks from that distance. Zach Lavine did the classic MJ free throw line dunk his first time up, but then proceeded to do it a second time incorporating a windmill dunk into it, and a third time putting the ball through his legs while he glided through the air. He backed up his confident smack talk with yet another jaw dropping performance at All-Star weekend.
Now, earlier I said Aaron Gordon should have won. To clear things up, I think both are deserving and there should have been a co-champion. But if I had to pick one, it would be Aaron Gordon for one simple reason. His creativity. He had the Orlando Magic mascot spinning on a hoverboard and had to time it perfectly to scoop the ball with one hand, spin, and throw it down. I honestly think he is the only person in the world capable of doing it, and he did it on his first attempt! Regardless of the winner though, this contest will go down in the books as one of the greatest of all time, and deservingly so.
The Slam Dunk contest is back, and I could not be any happier!
What did you think of last nights festivities? Comment below!
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