Saturday night’s NBA All-Star dunk contest was one of the most memorable contests in years.
Defending slam-dunk champion Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic faced off with a total of eight dunks.
LaVine defended his reigning victory with a tie-breaking win over Gordon, which he presaged by walking out to Drake’s “Back to Back” and embracing the Toronto-based singer who was sitting courtside.
From his first steps on the court, LaVine established his place as one of the best dunk contestants in NBA history.
There is absolutely no doubt that these two NBA powerhouse players are equally gifted in performing slam dunks. The two tied with straight 10’s from all five judges — not just once, but twice.
To begin the final round, Gordon completed an unbelievably difficult and awe-inspiring dunk in which he grabbed the ball from the Orlando Magic mascot.
That doesn’t seem too difficult, right? Here’s the catch: the Orlando Mascot was spinning 360 degrees on a hoverboard. Regardless, Gordon still managed to throw down a twisting dunk. Gordon earned a straight 50 as everyone in the Target Center in Toronto was on their feet.
LaVine countered with an alley-oop where he flew through the air for a one-handed finish, impressing the five judges and earning a 50.
As the second round began. Aaron Gordon again used the Orlando Magic mascot, jumping straight up into the air, clearing the mascot with his body, while passing the ball below his rear end for a left-handed finish.
The Timberwolves shooting guard responded calmly with a windmill from just inside the free throw line.
The two NBA superstars didn’t stop. In the first tie-breaker dunk-off, Gordon’s teammate Elfrid Payton threw an alley-oop off the side of the backboard in which Gordon caught the ball and completed a reverse dunk. This, of course, earned another 50. LaVine answered by throwing an alley-oop to himself from the baseline, catching the ball and escorting it through his legs to complete a reverse dunk.
This drunk matched Gordon, earning another 50. Zach LaVine became the 2016 NBA dunk champion after he earned his fifth score of 50 on the night with a through-the-legs dunk from just inside the free-throw line.
In fact, his last dunk was an impromptu decision based on a suggestion from Will Barton, another contestant who was eliminated in the first round.
LaVine became the first back-to-back winner since Nate Robinson in 2009 and 2010. While Aaron Gordon provided arguably the toughest competition the dunk contest has seen to date, LaVine earned a total 299 out of a possible 300 points on his six dunks, proving that he was, in fact, the more consistent competitor throughout the entire contest.
Many sports analysts claimed that the 2016 NBA dunk contest wasn’t better than Vince Carter’s unforgettable performance in 2000, but it sure was one of the best showdowns in dunk contest history.