This year’s NBA All-Star Weekend dunk contest might have been the best in 30 years and it certainly went down to the wire. Minnesota’s Zach LaVine and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon could have probably each walked away with the trophy but, it came down to one, and LaVine walked away with his second consecutive trophy after taking the dunk contest. LaVine and Gordon were both magnificent, flashing the type of athleticism and flexibility that’s been
Minnesota Timberwolves’ Zach LaVine slam dunks the ball during the NBA all-star skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)
missing from contests in years past. LaVine’s slender 6-foot-5 frame definitely helped him against the bigger Gordon. The 6-foot-9-inch Gordon may have had some of the most creative dunks of all time but in the end, the judges thought LaVine was the more impressive dunker. What did the AFRO Sports Desk judges think? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate who really won the contest.
Riley: LaVine deserved the trophy. He was fluid, creative and athletic. He had a trio of dunks where he simply floated from the free throw line and wowed the crowd. LaVine already had momentum from winning last year’s trophy and he used that fire to fuel another spectacular show. Sleek guards who bring quickness, speed and agility to the show are always more appealing to watch than big men. Gordon was good, but LaVine’s size definitely helped him.
Green: That was Gordon’s show and the judges robbed him of his first dunk contest trophy. I wouldn’t have been upset with some sort of tie but obviously it didn’t go down that way. It wasn’t a tie though because Gordon won even before the contest went into overtime. One of Gordon’s dunks was given a 49 score when it clearly deserved a perfect 50, but Shaq hated on him and gave him a 9, ruining the score. The dude jumped over an 8-foot mascot that was standing on a hoverboard, then threw the ball under his right leg before flushing it home, and you give him a 9? That’s why you don’t let Shaq be a judge.
Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon slam dunks the ball during the NBA all-star slam dunk skills competition in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (Mark Blinch/The Canadian Press via AP)
Riley: A tie, perhaps, would’ve been acceptable for viewers, but it can only be one. Both players went back and forth but, again, a shorter player will always be more appealing than a taller one. There’s a reason why the smaller Nate Robinson has won three championships, the most in league history—we’re obsessed with short dunkers. LaVine may not have been as creative as Gordon, but his smaller stature was enough to topple his bigger counterpart.
Green: Size and stature shouldn’t matter when it comes to dunk contests. It should be all about who has the best dunks, period, and Gordon definitely had those. He was creative, flamboyant and unique and those three traits should have been enough to take home the trophy. Gordon had probably the greatest dunk I ever saw when he leaped over the Orlando Magic mascot for a second time, this time putting the ball under both legs in a seated position before dunking it. The man looked like he was sitting down in a lazy boy chair 8 feet in the air. It was an amazingly sick dunk that none of us had ever seen before. That’s what the dunk contest is supposed to be about. LaVine’s dunks were nice but we’ve seen those dunks before. He dunked from the free throw line three times. I’m sorry, but ever since Brent Barry, a White baller, dunked from the free throw line back in the ‘90s, that feat hasn’t been as impressive. Gordon was impressive. He’s the real 2016 champion in my book.