In recent years, NBA fans have made an argument that the slam dunk contest was slipping and might not be the highlight of the NBA All-Star Weekend anymore. That couldn’t be farther from the truth this year, though. The 2016 slam dunk contest was easily one of the best in the history of the NBA All-Star weekend. Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon put on such an incredible show that they are being compared to the slam dunk antics of Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins back in the 80s.
As SB Nation put it, “It’s hard to overstate how spectacular the contest was.” The first two contestants are already forgotten. Andre Drummond and Will Barton were understated and definitely didn’t bring their best dunks if they wanted to win the contest this year. However, when Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon got their turns, they proved that the slam dunk contest is still the creative and entertaining event for Saturday night of the NBA All-Star Weekend.
LaVine and Gordon battled it out, even having to add a tie-breaker dunk off because they kept a tied score with perfect 50 point scores from the judges. Even though Zach ultimately pulled off the win, it was one of Gordon’s dunks that has everyone talking about the best dunk in the history of the NBA All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest.
Aaron Gordon brought it when he entered the court in a full tux. Gordon went a little bit Magic Mike XXL when he ripped his tux off to reveal an Orlando Magic uniform. Gordon landed a spectacular dunk when he crossed the ball through his legs before slamming it cleanly. That dunk was enough to propel Gordon to the next round.
Aaron Gordon put up a perfectly timed, 360-degree underhanded dunk after picking the ball up from a spinning mascot. The dunk was absolute perfection and it really looked like the competition was over. Zach LaVine wasn’t shook up by the jaw-dropping dunk. Instead, Zach got a real good running start and literally flew from the free throw line and brought the ball through his legs before shoving it through the hoop.
Zach LaVine’s second dunk was just as impressive as his first. Again, he took a running start from behind the half court line. As LaVine approached the free throw line, a teammate tossed the ball up for a flying alley-oop that took two tries to complete. Still impressive, the judges gave Zach a 49, his only imperfect score of the night. Aaron Gordon responded with a between-his-legs dunk after grabbing the ball from the Magic mascot Stuff, who was holding the ball on top from his head.
Aaron Gordon’s third dunk was less technically impressive, but it was full of showmanship. As Stuff spun in a slow circle on a hoverboard while holding up the ball, Gordon took a running start, grabbed the ball and spun in a perfect circle while paying homage to Karl Malone by holding his hand behind his head. It only took one try and the judges had no choice but to award Gordon a perfect score.
It was Aaron Gordon’s fourth dunk that just might be the best dunk ever in an NBA All-Star Weekend slam dunk contest. This time, Gordon used Stuff as a prop again. Then, Aaron jumped up and over the mascot and brought the ball up over his head, back down under his legs and at the point he sailed over Stuff’s head, Gordon was in a fully seated position before stuffing the ball into the hoop.
How could Zach LaVine top Gordon’s last dunk? We’ll tell you how. That man showed us that he can fly. LaVine exacted a windmill from the free-throw line that left the crowd speechless. It was the first time in years that the slam dunk contest was the most exciting part of the Saturday night games and easily eclipsed the 3-point shootout (who won that again?) Check out the highlights from the 2016 slam dunk contest, as well as some dunks from past years, and tell us if you think Zach LaVine deserved to win or if Aaron Gordon was robbed with a few dunks that will definitely be talked about for many seasons to come.
[Photo by Eisa/Getty Images]