From Dwight Howard’s honorary Superman dunk to Pat Connaughton’s tribute to ‘White Men Can’t Jump’, to a ‘50s’ filled final battle between Derrick Jones Jr. and Aaron Gordon, the 2020 Dunk Contest featured plenty of high-flying, jaw-dropping slams. The NBA world got what it wanted to cap off Saturday night’s All-Star festivities…until they didn’t.
In what was another crushing controversial ending for Aaron Gordon, Derrick Jones Jr. took home the title by a score of 48-47. Aaron Gordon was racking 50-point score after 50-point score, but at the end of the day, the judges thought it wasn’t quite enough to win it all. Both finalists went back and forth through two highly entertaining rounds, matching each other’s scores and sending the contest to overtime. Jones would lead-off with a blistering windmill from just inside the free-throw line, which scored 48 points. Gordon would follow up with a must-see jam over the 7’5” Tacko Fall of the Boston Celtics.
With the crowd and the broadcast behind him, Aaron Gordon thought he had the competition won. Unfortunately, and to much disbelief, the judges awarded to final dunk with a 47, finishing one-point shy of Jones Jr. The United Center erupted in disbelief, as many were positive that a mistake had been made. Alas, it appears that jumping over one of the tallest players to ever play the game of basketball just isn’t enough to claim a dunk contest title. Much respect to Jones Jr., as he put on an absolute clinic, but Gordon had the better showing this time around.
Saturday’s poor judging swept through the players like wildfire, with many past participants and heavily sought out new participants turned off by the outcome of the most electric part of All-Star Weekend. How will the NBA correct 2020s mistakes if and when dunkers like Zach LaVine and Zion Williamson head to Indianapolis for the 2021 event? The judging aspect clearly needs retooling and could keep current players away from wanting to participate in the future.
As we had to the second half of the NBA season, here’s a little narrative that we’ll throw out there. If you believe in Aaron Gordon having a chip on his shoulder before, it’s no doubt he has one now. The Magic host the Dallas Mavericks to start the second half of the season on Friday, February 21st and head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets Monday, February 24th. It may be a stretch, but there’s more than a slim chance that Gordon could come out with a fury of unblown steam the first few games back from the break. If that’s the case, this may be an excellent opportunity to take advantage of his player props moving forward (for at least the next few games).