The Dunk Contest is the main event of All-Star Saturday night in the NBA. Despite that, the event has underwhelmed recently, something that was particularly the case last year when Obi Toppin defeated Cole Anthony, Jalen Green, and Juan Toscano-Anderson. It’s struggled to bring in really big names, and players haven’t been able to execute the kinds of unforgettable dunks that fans remember from, say, Michael Jordan, or Vince Carter, or Spud Webb, or Dominique Wilkins, or [insert the name of a legendary dunker here].
So, with that out of the way, let’s watch the best Dunk Contest in recent memory. Back in 2016, Minnesota Timberwolves high-flyer Zach LaVine wanted to defend his title as the best dunker in the league. He had to get through a field that featured a pair of guys, Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Denver’s Will Barton, who didn’t exactly put forth unforgettable performances as they were eliminated in the first round.
And then, there was the third contestant: Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon. In what might have been the best performance by an eventual runner-up in the history of the event, Gordon pushed LaVine to the brink with some of the most impressive dunks we have seen in the Contest’s history — his dunk over the Magic’s mascot where he put the ball completely under his butt is, for me, the single best effort we’ve seen in the Dunk Contest in the last decade or so, and is right up there with some of the best we’ve ever seen in the event.
LaVine would go on to win in the final round with four dunks that earned a 50. Gordon, meanwhile, got three 50s and a 47 on his last dunk. We highly, highly recommend watching the video at the top of this post before tonight’s Contest, because, well, why not?