CHICAGO — Aaron Gordon assumed it was a 50. Or at least good enough to take home the slam dunk contest crown he felt he’d been robbed of in 2016.
Instead, he was robbed again on Saturday night at the United Center. And after losing out to Derrick Jones Jr. in a dunk-off, he had some pointed thoughts. Namely: “C’mon man. What we doin’?”
Gordon, after five perfect scores, vaulted over Tacko Fall, and tens of thousands rose to their feet in anticipation – assumption – of a sixth 50. Instead, Gordon got a 47. “I don't even know who gave me the 9s,” he said afterward. “I'ma find 'em. Trust me, I'ma find 'em, I'ma find 'em tonight."
He was half-joking. Half-smiling. Only half, though. He clearly felt aggrieved. He had qualms with the competition’s structure.
“Really, we're here to do four dunks,” Gordon continued. “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?”
The answer is the judges – who, according to a report, tried to collude to extend the dunk-off to another sudden-death round, but failed to collude correctly:
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 16, 2020
Two 9s and three 10s would have extended it. The third nine – from either Dwyane Wade, Chadwick Boseman, or Scottie Pippen – ended it. So what went wrong?
Did Dwyane Wade rig the vote?
If we take Common at his word, and accept that a tie, via collusion, was the agreed upon outcome of the judges, there are two possible explanations for how Gordon’s score ended up at 47 instead of 48.
The first is that the judges didn’t communicate properly. That each of Wade, Boseman and Pippen thought one of the others was going to give a 10. And that it was an honest mistake.
Then there are the conspiracy theories. And there aren’t not legs to them.
The other possible explanation is that one of Wade, Boseman and Pippen promised his conspirators that he’d give a 10, then gave a 9 instead. Why might Boseman or Pippen have done so? No clue.
Why might Wade have done so?
The evidence suggests that Wade, whether purposefully or accidentally, was at fault. Even before the scores were revealed, he had a smile on his face while the other four judges were calm. When the third nine was revealed, all eyes and heads turned right to Wade:
Wade tried to deflect blame in an interview hours after the event. But his words weren’t exactly convincing.
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) February 16, 2020
Gordon knew none of this when he stepped to a United Center podium. But he was already semi-pissed off. Enough so that he appeared to retire from dunk contests in frustration. He was asked if he wanted to win one before he called it quits.
“No, it's a wrap, bro. It's a wrap,” he responded. “I feel like I should have two trophies, you know what I mean? It's over for that. My next goal is going to be trying to win the 3-point contest.”
Twitter reacts to Jones over Gordon
The rest of the sports universe had similar feelings about Gordon’s 47 on his final dunk.
Can't have the dunk contest be at the level, then end it like that smh....
— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) February 16, 2020
2 🏆 should have been rewarded tonight that’s for damn sure!! Keep it a buck y’all. 🤦🏾♂️!! Them boys both put on a show! Professional DUNKERS
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 16, 2020
THAT’S BULLJIVE AARON GORDON GOT ROBBED IN THE DUNK CONTEST. GORDON DUNKED OVER THE TALLEST PLAYER IN THE NBA AND GOT A 47. FOH🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) February 16, 2020
Nba dunk contest judges?? They rob him... pic.twitter.com/AFQO9LkX6v
— Alshon Jeffery (@TheWorldof_AJ) February 16, 2020
Alllllll helllll nooooooooioooo!!!!!!!!
— Channing Frye (@channingfrye) February 16, 2020
Y’all can’t say he got robbed like Derrick Jones Jr wasn’t flying tho 😒.. they both deserved it tbh but that ain’t how competition works 🤷🏾♂️. Somebody had to win
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) February 16, 2020
— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) February 16, 2020
The NBA vote was worse than the Iowa Caucus.
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) February 16, 2020
The real problem, however, is that the dunk contest got to this point in the first place. A better judging scale would have ended it in Gordon’s favor earlier.
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