Hamidou Diallo is the NBA’s slam dunk king. The Oklahoma City Thunder rookie, competing in the 2019 dunk contest against Dennis Smith Jr., Miles Bridges, and John Collins, was able to take home the title, following in the footsteps of legends like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant be being crowned the league’s best dunker.
Collins got things started by grabbing the backboard, pulling himself to the other side, and dunking; Diallo threw down a windmill off the side of the backboard from Russell Westbrook; Smith took all three attempts to catch a ball off the bounce and hammer home a half-windmill with a body rotation; and Bridges was unable to convert an off-the-backboard and between the legs jam.
The second round of dunks in round one was much of the same. Bridges donned a throwback Larry Johnson Hornets uni, grabbed a pass from off the side of the backboard via Kemba Walker, and did a 360 windmill for the first perfect score of the night; Collins paid tribute to the Wright brothers by jumping over an airplane in a headset and scarf; Smith donned J. Cole’s high school jersey, caught a one-handed lob from his fellow Fayetteville native, jumped over Cole, and yammed; and Diallo jumped over Shaq and did the Vince Carter honey dip dunk for a perfect score.
Here’s how the scores broke down through one round as the field whittled down from four dunkers to two.
Diallo — 98 (48, 50)
Smith — 95 (45, 50)
Bridges — 83 (33, 50)
Collins — 82 (40, 42)
In the finals, fans were treated to a showdown between a pair of young skywalkers in Diallo and Smith. Things were kicked off by Smith coming up a bit short on what would have been a killer reverse between the legs slam, with Diallo following up by tossing a ball up, catching it with one hand off the bounce, and getting his eyes to the rim as he threw down.
The pair went into their final round of dunks with Diallo leading, 43-35. Smith’s second finals dunk involved launching himself over Dwyane Wade, grabbing a lob from Steph Curry, and finishing with authority for a perfect score. Diallo responded by grabbing a ball that Quavo held above his head and windmilling.
In the end, Diallo edged out Smith, winning 88-85. A former 5-star high school recruit and starter for the Kentucky Wildcats, the 2018 second round draft pick might have been the biggest unknown in the competition. Thanks to his ability to mix power and creativity as he soared through the air at the Spectrum Center, however, his name will be etched in basketball lore forever.