Aaron Gordon might be the best dunker the NBA has ever seen, and he's yet to win a Dunk Contest title. This is to take nothing away from Zach LaVine, who edged Gordon in 2016, or Derrick Jones Jr., who beat out Gordon on Saturday night in Chicago. Both those guys were incredible in their respective contests. Jones Jr. pulled off some eye-popping stuff on Saturday. But as Gordon said afterward to the media:
"Come on, man. What are we doing?"
There isn't really much more to say than that. The dunk contest, without going into overtime, consists of four dunks for each participant, and Gordon scored a perfect 50 on all four. Then he scored another 50 on his first playoff dunk. Then, for the most obvious walk-off exclamation point imaginable, he dunked over 7-foot-5 Tacko Fall on the final dunk of the night.
Seriously, how do you score a perfect 50 on your first five dunks, then do that on your sixth, and lose? Again, this is not to take anything away from Jones. Jr. Look at the collective final-round show these two put on:
That is incredible theatre, but all great shows need a great ending. What Gordon did was a tailor-made walk-off. You couldn't have written it any better. Two guys going toe to toe with some of the most ridiculous dunks anyone's ever seen, to the point that the TNT commentators, baffled as to how to differentiate between two basically perfect dunkers, were calling for a split title -- only for Gordon to finally say, 'OK, enough of this, I'm just going to jump over a 7-foot-5 dude because the crowd is calling for it' and hammer it home on his first try.
Again, what are we doing?
In the end, Jones Jr. was awarded 48 of the possible 50 points for his final dunk, while Gordon was given a 47. Rapper Common, who was one of the celebrity judges, said afterward there was a plan in place to award both Gordon and Jones Jr. equal scores for their final dunk and end the contest with co-winners, but that one of the judges basically went rogue and abandoned the plan. All Twitter fingers are pointing at Dwyane Wade, who gave Gordon a nine and left the stage immediately. Wade played with Jones Jr. in Miami. Pretty easy to connect the dots.
I have to say, I'm not mad at Wade if this is what he did. First of all, this is all subjective. Jones Jr.'s final dunk -- a legit windmill from one step inside the free-throw line -- was arguably better than Gordon jumping over Tacko, as crazy as that sounds. But beyond that, if the plan really was to end that dunk contest on a tie, anything other than that was a better outcome.
Co-winners? Has the participation trophy crowd really made it into the professional ranks? Yes, both guys were spectacular. The 2015-16 Warriors that won 73 games were spectacular, too. They went down to the wire with the Cavs in the Finals. Perhaps we should've stopped the game before Kyrie Irving's dagger and just given them both a trophy. Get out of there with that nonsense. Good on the NBA, which was reportedly ready to make the judges decide between Jones Jr. and Gordon with a tie never being an option.
Speaking of nonsense, let it sink in that this Dwight Howard dunk was scored higher than Gordon jumping over Tacko:
That is an absolute basic alley-oop dunk by a guy almost as tall as the guy Gordon jumped over. And it scored higher. I get the theatre of it all. Howard putting Kobe Bryant's No. 24 on his chest was always going to boost the love for whatever dunk he did, and even if going back to putting on the Superman cape was the laziest move imaginable, any kind of storyline in a theatre begging for any form of entertainment is going to be rewarded. But again, come on, man. What are we doing?
In the NBA, there are make-up calls all the time. For Gordon -- who said afterward that he's done with dunk contests, and can you really blame him? -- to not have an All-Star slam dunk championship on his resume after what he pulled off in 2016, a make-up call was definitely in order. If he had showed poorly, fine. But to put that show on and not get the benefit of the doubt is insulting. He should've won, and we should be here right now talking about how Jones Jr. got robbed. Then he could get the make-up call next year.