“Wow. I had an audible reaction to that!”
These were the words from my surprised girlfriend after runner-up Aaron Gordon’s under-the-legs-yet-over-the-mascot dunk.
See, my girlfriend knows absolutely nothing about sports (including what team Kobe played for as of last week and she lives in L.A.), and has never reacted to any sports moment on any emotional level. But even she might become an NBA fan now (I Love This Game!)
In perhaps the greatest display of athleticism in dunk contest history, featuring the greatest air showdown since MJ and ‘Nique in ‘88 (if that), now two-time champ Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon revived the NBA Slam Dunk Contest Saturday night.
Not only was nearly every dunk spectacular, including perhaps four of the greatest I’ve ever seen, but LaVine and Gordon are just beautiful leapers. They make these slams look so swooping yet so effortless, perfectly combining grace with immense leaping ability and originality. The best part, though, was the lack of misses. Like a great dance off, the final round and ensuing dunk-off was made even more thrilling by the immediacy of the back-and-forth final rounds.
Because, in the end, the dunk contest is about commanding the energy in the arena, and bringing the celebrities, stars, and kids to their feet. That’s what MJ and ‘Nique did, that’s what Vince did, and that’s what these youngsters did in Toronto.
As for the controversial final result (a LaVine victory): I suppose I agree with the (seeming) Internet consensus that Gordon was robbed. In my opinion, he had the overall best dunk (the under-the-legs), and his final dunk (the baseline two-hand tomahawk-into-double-clutch-reverse) impressed me slightly more than LaVine’s foot-inside-the-FT-line-between-the-legs.
But what’s the difference? We’re all winners tonight.