If you didn’t know Aaron Gordon before the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto, you knew him before Saturday night was over. The Orlando Magic forward took the weekend by storm by truly challenging Minnesota Timberwolves guard and defending dunk champion Zach LaVine with maybe the most epic NBA dunk contest we’ve ever seen. It was so close and so good that we had a dunk off for a couple of extra rounds.
At the end of the night, some people felt like Gordon was robbed of the title because he had the night’s best dunk. Others were just hoping to get a rematch of this in New Orleans in 2017 when the NBA reconvenes for another All-Star extravaganza. We don’t know if LaVine will go for a third straight title. We also don’t know if Gordon wants to go again for his first true dunk contest championship in the NBA. In an interview with Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, Gordon said last season’s dunk contest was the validation he needed as a dunker and he’s not 100 percent sure of whether or not he’ll compete again.
Kennedy: You were well-known by big NBA fans before last year’s dunk contest, but you became a household name overnight after going head to head with Zach LaVine. How much did your life change after that and did that give you some of that validation you wanted?
Gordon: “Yeah, that was incredible. As a little kid, I’ve always wanted to be part of a dunk contest, and of course I’ve always wanted to be in the NBA dunk contest. I got that opportunity and I did the best that I could. To me, that was all of the validation that I needed. I set out to achieve a goal and I executed it. After that, people were saying that I’m one of the best dunkers in the NBA. For me, that was amazing and all I needed. I wanted people to see what I saw and, you know, they did. They saw the creativity, the innovation, the joy and how much I love the game come out through my dunks.”
Kennedy: Are you going to do the dunk contest again this year?
Gordon: “I’m not 100 percent sure. I kind of gave a lot in this last one and to be more creative would be difficult. I think I could do it, but I’m not sure if I’m going to.”
Someone please kidnap Gordon and send him to New Orleans to compete in the dunk contest in 2017. What we saw in 2016 was just about perfect, so I understand not wanting to try to top that — which he’d certainly have to do. And even when LaVine accepted his second-straight trophy, he said that he felt like Gordon won the contest too, basically naming Gordon a co-champion in the dunk contest in an unofficial manner.
Just a reminder of how insane this dunk contest was: here it is in a 4.5-minute video:
The absurdity of this dunk contest in sequential order:
1. Gordon warms up with a turning, through-the-legs dunk to announce that he’s here and it won’t be like 2015 in Brooklyn when LaVine wasn’t challenged at all.
2. LaVine goes off the bounce, puts it behind his back, and completes a one-handed reverse dunk on the other side of the rim. That’s how he warmed up his night.
3. Gordon jumped over Stuff the Magic Dragon mascot, took the ball from Stuff’s hands, went between his legs, and threw it down.
4. LaVine caught an alley-oop from the free throw line. Those words shouldn’t even go together.
5. Gordon took the ball with one hand from Stuff spinning on a hoverboard, spun around whilst cupping said ball, and threw down a vicious one-handed.
6. LaVine did pretty much the same dunk but got a little higher and caught it off the bounce instead of ripping it out of Crunch’s hands.
7. Gordon with the dunk of the night. He takes the ball from out of Stuff’s hands once again, but clears the mascot by folding his body like he’s in a lounge chair by the pool, and puts the ball under both legs before dunking it. Typing that out will make you feel a little drunk. Go ahead and try it.
8. LaVine does a full windmill dunk from the free throw line that sent John Wall running onto the court.
9. Gordon catches a lob off the side of the backboard from Elfrid Payton, catches it with both hands, brings it down like a windmill motion, and rips home a two-handed reverse dunk.
10. LaVine goes off the bounce, between his legs from out of bounds on the baseline, and finishes on the front side of the rim with a two-handed reverse dunk.
11. Gordon gets criminally robbed with a score of 47 on an extreme double-pump where he brings the ball back behind his shoulders then down between his legs before finishing with a two-handed reverse dunk. It’s one of those dunks that is too insane in live action and you need to see a slow-mo replay of it.
12. LaVine wins the contest by going between his legs a step inside the free throw line.
Please come back, both of you.
Source: CBS Sports / Aaron Gordon is not sure if he’ll participate in the NBA dunk contest again