Ask anyone from Chicago around All-Star weekend, and you’ll quickly learn the city breeds tough, gritty and relentless basketball.
Apparently, it also breeds controversial dunk contests.
Thirty-two years after Michael Jordan bested Dominique Wilkins in a contest at the Old Chicago Stadium that many agree saw a healthy heaping of home-cooking on the menu, Derrick Jones Jr. topped Aaron Gordon in an affair that sent shockwaves through the NBA cinematic universe. Here’s the rundown:
Highlights from regulation
There was a special feeling about this one from the very beginning.
Perhaps white men can jump:
Dwight busted out the cape (again) – and tributed Kobe along the way:
Gordon at one point rattled off four 50s in a row:
In the end, it all came down to Gordon and Jones, who duked out a three-round overtime period that featured some absolute haymakers:
It was raucous fun, truly. But the controversy came at the finish. Jones’ final dunk was an attempted reprisal of Julius Erving’s famous free-throw line dunk (re-popularized by Jordan, partly in that aforementioned ’88 contest), which registered a 48. Gordon then pulled out the 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall for an improvised leapfrog that nearly tore the roof down.
«It was a great decision for him to do that. Everybody knows Tacko’s a fan favorite,» Jones said. «I knew it was going to get the crowd hyped.»
«He (Fall) was a little bit nervous. He was like ‘I got faith in you.’ I was like, ‘I appreciate it,'» Gordon said.
That dunk, though, garnered only a 47 from the judges. Game, set, match: Jones. Boos cascaded from the rafters.
That sentiment carried over into the postgame presser.
«What are we doing here?» Gordon bemoaned to assorted media before even taking his seat at the podium. «Jumping over somebody 7-foot-5 and dunking is no easy feat. What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?»
All fair questions. All fair points.
«I don’t even know who gave me the 9s. I’m going to find them,» he added with a laugh. «Trust me, I’m going to find them tonight.
Dwyane Wade, Scottie Pippen and Chadwick Boseman… Look out.
Gordon did give Jones his due, calling him a «leaper» and «great dunker.» Still, this appears to be the final contest of Gordon’s career.
«It’s a wrap, bro. It’s a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies,» Gordon said, alluding to his defeat at the hands of Zach LaVine in 2016. «My next goal is going to be trying to win the 3-point contest.»
Jones, meanwhile, contested the premise that Gordon was robbed at all.
«When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school and I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have got a 48,» Jones said. «He clipped Tacko’s head when he did that dunk, so I knew they couldn’t have gave him a 50 for that one. I would have respected it if they gave him another 48, so we can go again.»
In that event, Jones said he would have been ready.
«I just turned 23, I got legs for days,» Jones said. Jones’ birthday was the night of the contest, and he said he had dunks planned for as long as the judges allowed them to.
And though Jones hasn’t yet thought about where this dunk contest ranks in the history of ones before, he’s ready for the next challenge.
«Whoever want to step out there. I don’t know. I’m not naming no names. I don’t want to call nobody out, but whoever want to step out in front of me, I’m there. I’m not going to shy away from nobody.»