Coming into the return of the All-Star dunk contest to Chicago, Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. were the favorites of the field. Jones Jr., a representative of the Miami HEAT, left the night victorious.
Before the two finalists led the crowd into a dunk off, Pat Connaughton of the Milwaukee Bucks gave fans a flashback and a nod to Spike Lee by paying homage to his film White Men Can’t Jump. Dwight Howard brought his Superman cape back out and paid home to Kobe Bryant. But as expected it was the Gordon and Jones Jr. show, ending in a controversial finish.
The judges aimed to keep the contest going in a tie but someone on the judge’s panel messed up the count.
“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” Common told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”
After a string of 50s, Jones’s last dunk was a windmill from just inside the free-throw line, which brought him a 48. Gordon jumped over 7-foot-5 Boston Celtics rookie Tacko Fall to get 47.
“I wanted to jump over Shaq. He didn’t want to do it. It was really for the people. Everybody was like ‘Tacko! Tacko!’ I was like, cool, man, let’s do it. The tallest dude in the gym,” Gordon said. “Jumping over somebody 7’5″ and dunking is no easy feat. What did I get, like a 47? Come on man. What are we doing?”
Gordon doesn’t think foul play voting came into play from Wade toward him in the help of Jones, his former teammate in Miami.
“No, I don’t even know who gave me the 9s. I’m going to find them ,” Gordon jokes. “Trust me, I’m going to find them tonight. But really, we’re here to do four dunks. So out of four dunks, it should be the best out of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA Dunk Contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”
Jones Jr. won the competition on his birthday and the victory was the best birthday gift he could receive.
“Just being able to get an achievement like this on a day like this, it’s special for me. This is a day that I’m going to tell my kids, just make sure they know that this is a day for me,” Jones Jr. said.
While he put up a competitive performance, Jones Jr. was still concerned once he saw Tacko take the court.
“It was a great decision for him to do that. Everybody know Tacko’s a fan favorite. Just bringing him out there, I knew it was going to get the crowd hyped. I knew it was going to get everybody hyped out there. Once the judges took so long to give him the result, I knew it was something fishy. I knew they wasn’t going to give him that 50. They couldn’t have.”