Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted, “Y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).
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20 thoughts on “Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

  1. Kastebaked

    Too many 50’s early on. Jones had better dunks while Gordon was repetitive.

  2. MoneyBallJustWorks

    Jones comment about his last dunk shows partially why it shouldn’t have been a 50. “I’ve been doing that dunk since high school.”

    man your in the NBA now plus we have seen guys take off from the free throw line not one step inside it.

  3. bowserhound

    Somehow the fans need to decide the winner, these judges are horrible. Every dunk can’t be perfect.

  4. dynamite drop in monty

    Long past the time to cancel these ridiculous carnivalesque sideshows, look at these imbeciles. They cannot even count.

  5. Lefty_Orioles_Fan
    Lefty_Orioles_Fan

    When you make something like a dunk contest subjective… Schiff happens.
    It was a total Schiff show. However in the end it was entertaining and Gordon just didn’t get to co hold the trophy.
    They are both amazing athletes. I could never do what they did even on my best day. So hopefully in the end they both appreciate that.

  6. Appalachian_Outlaw

    Do they get anything, monetarily, for winning a dunk contest? If not, who cares? It’s supposed to be for fun, right?

  7. Judges shouldn’t sit altogether anymore…
    simple as that you there to judge 1-10 not talk to the judge next to you a fix results in a particular way.

  8. It’s shocking to hear the NBA would rig a slam dunk contest. I mean look at the integrity the slow for their season and playoffs. Never mind!

  9. So, they tried to script the ending, and couldn’t even get that right? There’s no point in making it a competition anymore – they’ve flat out admitted they tried fixing it. Just let people dunk and go home.

  10. jdan74

    So they admitted that it was basically a Truman Show scripted event and they screwed it up. This is honestly why I don’t watch basketball. I know it wasn’t a game, but everything involved with basketball is way too easy to fix. Look at the game, tonight, it was an absolute joke. Totally fixed to let “Bron Bron’s” team win.

    • jdan74

      This stuff is nothing but fake “reality” TV entertainment. Take it as entertainment, but just remember, a lot of it is scripted.

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