Fans both at home and at the United Center may not have been happy about it, but Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. picked up the coveted Slam Dunk Contest title on Saturday night.
After a tight battle, Jones carded a 48 on his final dunk of the night, which was a nod to Michael Jordan’s famous free-throw-line slam. That edged out the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon by a single point. Jones’ winner was a windmill dunk that started from just inside the free-throw line.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 16, 2020
It was Gordon’s final dunk, however, that was the highlight of the competition.
Gordon, after getting multiple 50s in a row, dragged out Tacko Fall and expertly cleared the 7-foot-5 center for a powerful slam. However the judges — Scottie Pippen, Dwyane Wade, Candace Parker, Common and Chadwick Boseman — only awarded him a 47, one point shy of Jones’ final mark.
The issue, it seems, was that Gordon barely grazed Fall’s head in the process — something that was actually extremely nerve-racking for the Celtics’ big man.
Tacko Fall says that Aaron Gordon dunk was not planned. “I was scared for my life”
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 16, 2020
“He clipped Tacko’s head when he went up, so I knew they couldn’t have gave him a 50,” Jones said, via Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. “I would have respected it if they gave him a 48 and we [went at it again].”
“Jumping over somebody 7-foot-5 and dunking is no easy feat,” Gordon said. “What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?”
Regardless, Gordon wasn’t worried about clearing Fall.
He just wished he would have jumped slightly higher.
“I was confident in it,” Gordon said. “I should have let it rip a little bit more, I guess. If I put a little bit more effort into it, I would have gotten a higher score.
“But he was a little nervous. He was like, ‘I got faith in you.’ I was like, ‘I appreciate it.’”
Pat Connaughton was eliminated in the first round despite throwing down massive dunks over Milwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich and teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Lakers big man Dwight Howard broke out the Superman cape in the first round and paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant in the first round, too, but didn’t make the cut.
Jones, who was also celebrating his birthday on Saturday night, is the second Heat player to win one of the specialty contests this weekend, joining Bam Adebayo after his win in the Skills Challenge to start the night.
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