All-Star Slam Dunk Contest Causes Controversy
All-Star Slam Dunk Contest a Point of Controversy
The 2020 All-Star Weekend provided memorable moments, some controversial, that people will be talking about for years to come and that was before the finale of the weekend, the 69th 2020 All-Star game the following evening. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his selected team battled LeBron James and his selectively drafted team in the annual game.
The game was very exciting with special tributes to fallen NBA great, Kobe Bryant, who passed away with his daughter and seven others.
The weekend began with the NBA Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb.14. This game has a unique format and the All-Star teams are separated into Team USA versus Team World, and Team USA defeated Team World with a 151-131 victory. Miles Bridges took home the MVP award from this contest.
All-Star Saturday ended with controversy that is sure to be the topic of discussion for many days to follow. The night’s events included the Skills Challenge, the 3-Point Contest, and the All-Star Slam Dunk Championship.
The Miami Heat organization took home two of the three trophies awarded that night. Bam Adebayo won the coveted Skills Challenge and Derrick Jones Jr. was the controversial winner of the Slam Dunk Championship. Sacramento King’s Buddy Hield won the 3-Point contest after advancing to the final round and putting the winning money shot through the basket as the time expired. The following night saw Team LeBron come away victorious with Kawhi Leonard taking home the All-Star Game MVP.
All-Star Slam Dunk: The Dunks Themselves
Unfortunately, Adebayo and Hield’s amazing victories in their respective contests will be overshadowed by the Slam Dunk Championship controversy. In the first round of the contest, Dwight Howard and Pat Connaughton were eliminated despite having impressive dunks and Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. advanced to the next round. Gordon scored two perfect 50-point scores to advance to the second round.
In the next round, Jones and Gordon both received perfect 50-point scores. They then and went to a dunk-off round to determine the winner. Gordon wasn’t happy with this as he had already shot four perfect 50 scores, but he reluctantly participated in the bonus round.
Jones went first and replayed the dunk that won Michael Jordan the slam dunk championship in 1988. He performed a windmill jump from just beyond the free-throw line and performed quite the impressive dunk. Jones was rewarded with a score of 48.
Next, it was Gordon’s turn. In one of his prior dunks, he jumped over Chance the Rapper and dunked the ball to receive a score of 50 from the panel of judges. Gordon chose to replay this dunk, but instead of using Chance the Rapper again, he chose to bring out Boston Celtics’ rookie, Tacko Fall, to jump over before making his dunk shot. It is noteworthy to mention Tacko Fall is 7-foot-5 and to successfully complete a dunk over a player that makes Shaquille O’Neal seem short is a monumental task.
The judges didn’t find this dunk as impressive as Jones’ dunk and scored accordingly. Gordon received a score of 47, two 10’s and three 9’s which gave the victory to Jones.
The game announcers and the social media world went into a frenzy following the outcome. There were heated debates on Twitter accusing the judges of being biased and rigging the competition for Jones to win.
2016 x 2020
Aaron Gordon may have been robbed twice in the dunk contest. pic.twitter.com/ToxM8jMPhI
— ESPN (@espn) February 16, 2020
Shortly after the evening’s events were over it was revealed that the judges were supposed to give the players both a tie score in the final dunk off, but “someone didn’t do it right, I don’t know who it is.”, hip-hop artist told Common told ESPN’s Ramona Shelborne. This is problematic for many fans as it proves the judges conspired together to award a tie, yet someone, reportedly Dwyane Wade, changed their mind and voted differently than expected.
Dunk contest judge @Candace_Parker —who gave Aaron Gordon a 10—tells ESPN, “I ain’t throwing anyone under the bus …. buttttt check the score card.”
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 16, 2020
The dunk contest judges had intended for the second round of the dunk off between Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. to end in a tie "but somebody didn't do it right." https://t.co/u4ktIkQeB6
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 16, 2020
The two players themselves also spoke out following the event and Gordon was understandably bitter while Jones was just as understandably confident in his performances. Gordon told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he should already have two slam dunk championships and he will focus his attention on the 3-Point contest in the future.
Aaron Gordon says he won't do the dunk contest again:
“It’s a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies. So it’s over for that.” pic.twitter.com/52gXeJBDqJ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 16, 2020
Aaron Gordon says the dunk contest scoring should be more cumulative: “I did 5 straight 50s. That should be a wrap, it’s over. Who’s running the show?”
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 16, 2020
Jones told Nichols he’s only 23 years old (his birthday was Saturday night) and he could’ve kept on dunking for as long as the judges wanted them to. He also told Nichols if Gordon believes he should be given the slam dunk championship title he needs to come back next year and try again.
This year’s Slam Dunk contest will surely be the talk at the water cooler in the office. It will go down in history, but perhaps for all of the wrong reasons.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images