One of the most entertaining days of the All-Star Weekend just wrapped up and I’ll be the first to admit that it was one of the best weekends across all 3 events, which is rare these days.
A great warm-up event that saw Karl-Anthony Towns take the crown.
It was a great battle as the newest addition to the Skills Challenge requiring the players to hit a 3 point shot at the end proved to produce the “edge-of-your-seat” moments.
KAT beat out Boston’s Isaiah Thomas and helps win it for team bigs!
Next up we had the 3pt Contest that had a tonne of hype coming into it with the defending champ and the other half of the Splash Brothers joining a great lineup to follow.
In the first round JJ Redick, James Harden and Rookie Devin Booker all put up scores of 20 that lead to a 30 second tie-breaker as Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton and CJ McCollum (replacing Chris Bosh) both were eliminated. Klay Thompson put up a huge 22 to start his first round, and at the buzzer on the final rack his teammate and defending champ Steph Curry was able to sneak in with 21.
In the tie-breaker James Harden decided to put his rack of money balls on his last rack of 3, which ultimately was his demise as he and JJ Redick fell to Devin Booker.
In the Finals round, Steph went first and was looking promising at the start then lost his rhythm momentarily before heating up at the final rack to get a score of 23 to finish. Everyones darkhorse pick Devin Booker was up next and the Rookie jitters may have set in as Booker could only reach 16 which was no match against the splash brothers. As you can see in the Vine above, Klay took the floor last and that was all she wrote as he came out and kept draining each rack and as he approached his final money ball rack he had only missed 5 shots. Well, the final rack was no match as Thompson knocked down all 5 money balls to hit a whopping 27 points in 1 minute and take the 2016 3-Pt crown from his fellow MVP teammate.
Dunk Contest (Condensed)
In a recent podcast that we did Tom, Rob and myself all agreed that nobody in this contest would really be able to hold up against Zach Lavine and really that wasn’t a farfetched statement. However, we all recognised that the double zero from Orlando has a history of sheer athleticism and great dunking ability stretching as far back as high school.
First dunker: Will Barton went first and did a dunk that was actually quite nice in terms of starting off the competition, but the crowd was definitely not into it at all. In the dunk contest there are a few factors that contribute to getting you a win and while his dunk was good, was it dunk contest good? I’d say yes, but it could have been executed better.
Second Dunker: Andre Drummond came in next and tried to attempt a behind the backboard oop to himself off the bounce and bring it through his legs. He eventually had to go to another dunk to avoid boring the crowd with misses. Not a strong start for Drummond but a good try.
Third Dunker: Next was Aaron Gordon who came out and did a dunk reminiscent to a Jason Richardson type dunk with a through the legs reverse finish on his first attempt. Now this was just the beginning and with a very solid first dunk from Gordon, it was about to be one to watch.
Final Dunker: Who else but the defending champ Zach Lavine, who in case you missed last years dunk contest decided to give the audience a little throwback to his previous winning dunks. A clean lob to himself with a behind the back finishing on the other side of the hoop with an under hand one handed finish. At this point the crowd was ready and awake as Kenny Smith kept saying, but again we’re just getting started here.
At this point Drummond and Barton could only sit and watch as they knew it was about to get good, and really we were just fine letting Gordon and Lavine battle it out in the next round.
Round 2 (and then some)
Aaron Gordon 1st Attempt: After proclaiming his arrival it was time to bring out the props, and I think that most would agree when I say that this was the greatest display of prop use I’ve ever seen. Gordon’s first attempt had the Orlando mascot come out on a hoverboard and hold the ball above his head, sounds simple enough, and in almost levitating fashion Gordon runs in taking the ball off the mascot placing it through his legs for the jam. Usually guys just take it off the person holding the ball requiring a nice amount of vertical to do so, however gordon took it to a whole new level with this one.
Zach Lavine 1st Attempt: Thought Gordon was nice for that one? Lavine obviously took note at this point that he was in for a bit of a battle if he wanted to repeat, so with that in mind he one-upped Gordon the only way he knew how. I don’t think anyone could make a free-throw line lob dunk look so easy but Lavine did, and did he ever.
Aaron Gordon 2nd Attempt: So what do you do after someone gets a Lob from the free-throw line? Oh thats right, you just ask your mascot to spin around on a hoverboard while he holds the ball out with his hand. But wait, what do you do with that? Of course! You simply cup the ball with one hand and do a 360 with your body and slam it in. Isn’t the Dunk contest just so easy sometimes?
Zach Lavine 2nd Attempt: Now I must preface this by saying that at this point in the competition Shaq was the reason these two had to keep dunking giving them one less point as they both needed 2 attempts on the first 2 dunks. However that dunk that you just saw from Gordon was not only a winning dunk but he added a degree of difficulty that even if he had gone after Lavine would have and should have won him the trophy right there and then. No video is need for this one, but basically Lavine did the same dunk just minus the mascot prop and now we must continue this already battle. Should Gordon have won it here? Yes. Do I want to see more dunks from both of these guys? FUCK YEAH!
Aaron Gordon 3rd Attempt: Just when we all thought it couldn’t get any better, making this an already memorable dunk contest, Aaron Gordon comes out with a dunk that has been done before but I don’t think its been seen by the larger part of the NBA fans that watch All-Star weekend. Either way who am I to say that this wasn’t a jam that was jam packed with awesomeness. Gordon, you got you a good one here.
Zach Lavine 3rd Attempt: Zach really needed to come with something here, as the majority of fans were ready to book it in after Gordon’s amazing “take a seat” under the legs dunk. Hey Zach why don’t you show us something from the free-throw line again? Maybe this time can you like windmill the ball after you jump? Ok Thanks.
Aaron Gordon 4th attempt: By now I’m sure I share the sentiments of every NBA fan watching when I say that this shit was getting so far off the hook that I almost couldn’t fathom it ending and honestly I didn’t want it to. So Gordon sets the bar with a nice off the side of the backboard windmill and finishes by reversing his body for a backwards jam. I think by now I had the ambulance on standby in case I had a heart attack.
Zach Lavine 4th Attempt: “OK guys seriously, if you keep going theres going to be……” This quote trails off because of the dunk you see below. Mid sentence Zach Lavine pulled off a sick self-oop behind the backboard through the legs reverse finish. If anybody was near me at the time I think I would have asked them to slap me. I really thought I was dreaming as I watched this unfold.
Aaron Gordon Final Attempt: The reason why this will go down as one of the best Dunk Contests ever is you have to realise that these guys were literally playing out how a dunking competition should go. They were going Dunk for Dunk and hitting them on their first try, I mean it couldn’t have been scripted any better. And Gordon’s 5th dunk would show no signs of slowing down at all as he pulled off the double pump dunk but with a twist as he first cocked it behind his head, pumped it down and then back up for the slam. If you ever needed proof an athlete with strength and vertical, look no further than this dunk.
Zach Lavine Final Attempt: “All good things must come to an end” and end it is what Lavine did. Controversial throughout, Zach took it back to the free-throw line to deliver his final blow to Gordon. Again, normal human beings shouldn’t be doing this and in a salute to James White the free throw line through the legs dunk would prove to be the final say in this amazing battle.
As I said before, this should go down as one of the best dunk contests ever. This is alignment of great young NBA talent and some sketchy judging that ended up producing something that we may not see in a long time. The Dunk Contest really needed this to take place and I’m sure we’re all glad it did. Zach said it himself that Gordon should be really crowned as a 50% owner if the 2016 trophy, but at the end of the day one winner comes out on top. Overall you couldn’t ask for a better All-Star Saturday and I’ll end by letting Motumbo show you everyones feelings as we watched this amazing event.