People didn't believe in Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons.
At least, the oddsmakers didn't.
Or maybe it was that many around the NBA world just didn’t know what Simons could bring to the 2021 Slam Dunk Contest.
But, they know now.
The Trail Blazers backup point guard, who competed in his first dunk contest, was pegged at a +250 underdog to win the contest, the worst odds in the bunch.
That was according to PointsBet, the official sports betting partner of NBC Sports.
Simon's competition, New York's Obi Toppin came in at +140, while Indiana's Cassius Stanley was the favorite at +115.
But the 21-year-old Simons was determined to put his name on the map Sunday night.
And he did just that by impressing this year’s esteemed judges of:
Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, Jason Richardson, Dee Brown and Josh Smith.
The underdog showed off his athleticism and his creative juices.
And now Rip City can say Anfernee Simons is the 2021 Slam Dunk Contest champion.
And even after having a few minutes to digest that he had won it all, Simons still couldn’t believe it.
In the first round, Simons went last.
Stanely was up first and scored a 44.
And it was Toppin coming in hot with a fun between the leggings slam that scored 48.
After the two completed dunks that Simons witnessed, he went --
Simons showed off his hops when he had a miniature hoop and the basketball mounted towards the middle of the backboard.
And with that first dunk, the judges gave Simons a 46.
But it was the second and third dunk that continued to show his creativity.
And it paid off.
It came down to Toppin and Simons.
It was all about a smooch from Simons.
The almost kissing the rim dunk is what Simons is probably going to be known for, at least, for the rest of this season.
After the event, Simons explained that he wanted to get as close as possible to actually smooching the rim.
“In practice, I never actually kissed the rim, but I was like I’ve got to commit to it. So I was trying to put a mouthpiece in last minute, but it didn’t fit.”
Earlier this week, Simons had joked about going out there and kissing the rim. After laughing about it multiple times, he decided that a unique dunk like that could be just the ticket to winning it all.
And it was.
But Simons didn’t take credit for all of his creative dunks.
Trail Blazers assistant coach Dale Osbourne played a big role in Simons' first dunk with the props of the small basket.
“Shout-out to Coach Oz, he came up with the first idea on the dunk… He helped out a lot in this whole process.”
Simons winning the Slam Dunk Contest means the Trail Blazers now have their first player to win the competition.
Which caught the third-year player off guard.
“Am I the first? Oh, I didn’t know I was the first, that’s amazing,” Simons said with a big smile.
And even though he is the first Portland Trail Blazer to hoist up the Slam Dunk Contest trophy, he will now return to Portland to show off his hardware to last year’s champion and now his current Blazer teammate Derrick Jones Jr.
It was all smiles for Simons in his media appearance after the competition.
“It’s definitely a dream come true," he said.
Simons also admitted he was nervous right before the event started, but he was also so excited and pumped to finally showcase his dunking skills to the NBA world.
As for his teammate Damian Lillard, who sat on the sideline cheering him on, he was like a “proud big brother.”
“I thought it was impressive," Lillard said. "I think when you are a little bit nervous, you don’t really know what to expect or you never really had that many eyes on you or that much attention -- sometimes you’ll miss dunks, or you have nervous energy, but when I saw him before the dunk contest and during the dunk contest, he was calm.”
Lillard also made sure to add that he was the one to suggest Simons should blow a kiss to the rim after the dunk.
The kiss probably sealed the deal.
Congrats again to Anfernee Simons – the 2021 Slam Dunk winner!
Now, put some respect on his name!