Move over, Michael and Dominique.
The whispers about the once-famed dunk contest no longer deserving top-billing on the NBA’s All-Star Saturday night grew louder and louder, especially as Golden State teammates Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson splashed jumper after jumper in the final of the 3-point shootout, scintillating the crowd with swishes.
But Minnesota’s Zach LaVine and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon made a thunderous statement about the NBA’s best form of entertainment: that the dunk is king.
The duo combined for perfect score after perfect score, taking the air from the crowd and delivering it back into the Air Canada Centre in one fell swoop.
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In the end, LaVine’s showmanship was just enough to overtake Gordon, although it was debatable—like the 1988 Dunk Contest in Chicago where Michael Jordan overtook Dominique Wilkins, albeit controversially.
Like Jordan, LaVine dunked from the free-throw line—but on one of his dunks, he added a windmill. On another, he added a between-the-legs move, thrilling the crowd and leaving Gordon wondering what more could he do.
“I don’t want to get into (that). Everybody’s probably gonna say something about Mike and all them,” LaVine said. “But my personal opinion, man, we did some things nobody else did.”
Like Gordon’s over the head and all the way down dunk, the first of its kind, seemingly. Or Gordon using the Orlando Magic mascot for consecutive dunks, going between the legs and behind the back, leading everybody to think the night was over.
“I knew it hadn’t been done in a dunk contest,” Gordon said. “I think all four of my initial dunks had never been done in a dunk contest before. That was my goal, and I did it.”
It went to a dunk-off after back to back perfect scores in the final round for each, as the combination of creativity, energy and willingness to push the envelope.
No repeats, no complaints.
Like Wilkins’ feeling of being robbed in Jordan’s home city after Jordan’s free-throw line dunk, Gordon also marches into history despite not winning—which probably adds to the lore.
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And even after a thrilling 3-point shootout, nobody will be talking about the contest between Thompson and Curry.
“If I would’ve prepared better, we would’ve been here all night, going 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “It’s been a dream all my life. I had so much fun.”
Instead, kids will be saying, “sometimes I dream, that he is me.”
Because dunk is king.