THE SANTA CLARA
February 18, 2016
All-Star Weekend 2016 was a success for the NBA. While Toronto was the host city of the event for the first time, the main headline going into the weekend was Kobe Bryant’s last All-Star Game appearance.
It was the 37-year-old’s eighteenth season, but he announced a few months ago that it will be his last.
Drake’s host city did a fantastic job of honoring Bryant’s storied career.
However, another event stole the show from Bryant’s farewell.
The All-Star game itself always takes place on the Sunday night of the weekend, but more exciting was Saturday night, consisting of the Skills Competition, the Three-Point Shootout and the Dunk Contest.
In recent years, the Dunk Contest has been underwhelming.
The League has tried different formats over the past five years, incorporating fan voting and teams rather than individual competition.
These variations haven’t done much to impress fans.
The talent in the contest has left something to be desired, and the ability and creativity of dunkers hasn’t progressed. But this year, that all started to change.
The NBA decided to go back to a more traditional format, where the best dunkers advance to a championship round and then duel it out for the title.
A duel was precisely what fans got in 2016, between the defending champion Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic.
The pair absolutely shocked the audience with their innovative performances.
LaVine set the tone early, earning the first of many perfect scores of 50 on his very first dunk attempt, with a behind the back reverse slam.
LaVine and Gordon easily separated themselves from the other participants, Will Barton and Andre Drummond, and entered the championship round uncontested.
In this final round, each dunker is supposed to get two dunks, and the player with the higher combined score wins.
However, after an aerial assault of free-throw line dunks from LaVine, and some powerful ingenuity involving a furry green mascot on a hoverboard from Gordon, the players both ended the second round with two perfect scores.
With his second championship round dunk, Gordon carried out one of the greatest dunks in NBA history.
The Magic player jumped over his mascot switching the ball underneath his legs that were both extended and parallel to the floor.
Some fans believed Gordon deserved to win because of the jam, even though LaVine repeated as champion instead.
The tie forced a bonus third dunk, in which the players had only prepared two dunks for the round.
However, the 50s kept on coming, forcing a fourth round in an attempt to break the tie once again.
LaVine outlasted Gordon and won 200 to 197, although most fans wanted the duel to continue.
Although there has been some controversy on social media about which athlete deserved to win, one clear winner emerges: fans of the dunk contest.
In the end, the competition simply cannot finish in a tie, even though Gordon and LaVine both performed feats of superhuman athleticism.
LaVine was awarded the trophy, but we must thank both of these young studs for making the dunk contest relevant once again.
Bo Kendall is a first year communication major.