Aaron Gordon might be having a disappointing season in the eyes of the Magic’s dwindling, depressed fan base, but on Saturday, February 18, he’ll have the opportunity to once again become one of the biggest stars in the world. Unlike the defending, two-time champion Zach LaVine, Gordon is returning to the court for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game Slam Dunk Contest, and this year he absolutely has to be the favorite to win, after he was arguably robbed last year, when his final dunk only received a score of 47.
Shaq got some heat during last year’s contest for giving Gordon a 9 on his second dunk — especially from Gordon’s brother — but The Big Number Sign Holder has made himself perfectly clear when it comes to awarding a perfect 10: “Make it the first time.” On Thursday night, Shaq and Gordon came face-to-face (via satellite) to settle the score, so to speak, and especially any beef ahead of this year’s contest (it was a big night for The Big Beefer). Gordon, ever the good sport, took the high road.
I like that you set the standard high, you wanted to raise the bar. And after my second dunk – which was clearly a 10, you gave me a 9, it’s okay – I looked at you, and I said, “Hey man, what’s up? Why you giving me a 9?” He said, [extremely good Shaq voice] “You gotta make it on the first try.” Say no more. So, for the rest of the contest, you upped my level of competition, and I appreciate that. It’s okay.
As Gordon explained, he came up with his last two dunks on the spot, and that’s really what cost him, because the dunk before them was just too gosh-danged perfect.
So, while Shaq may have set the bar high for Gordon to score a perfect 10, Gordon set the bar impossibly high by not saving his best effort for the end. Hopefully he keeps that in mind this year when he attempts to take his rightful place as the new king of the dunk contest.