aaron-gordon-slam-dunk-contest

Tonight is the greatest night in the history of the Light Skinned Coalition. El Debarge showed up on Saturday Night Live to perform “Headlights” with Kanye West & Young Thug (along with The-Dream & Kelly Price). Klay Thompson actually beat his Splash Brother compadre Stephen Curry in the three-point shootout. And Aaron Gordon re-introduced himself to America in a way that he couldn’t while at Arizona — a slam dunk contest performance for the ages with Zach LaVine.

You remember Zach LaVine the same way I do, owning Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a 2015 Slam Dunk Contest victory that proclaimed him the next great dunker in the NBA. When LaVine said he hadn’t even reached into his bag of tricks last year, we knew we were going to get something special this year. Who knew we’d get the greatest final round in dunk contest history? Hyperbolic? Maybe. If Dominique versus MJ was iconic and Vince Carter eclipsing the entire contest with his 2000 performance was the zenith then this was the most creative. Gordon & LaVine were a contrast of dunkers anyway, one built off power and force, the other with effortless grace.

The end result of the final round involved eight dunks, seven 50s and a bunch of people giving us reaction .GIF glory. LaVine took home his second straight slam dunk contest but didn’t leave without wanting to be gracious about it.

“I think we should damn near share the trophy,” LaVine announced to the still-in-awe Air Canada Centre crowd, “because he did some stuff I’ve never seen before.”

Let’s look at the highlights, shall we?

Gordon entered in the first round rocking a tuxedo and promptly introduced himself with a 360 degree Eastbay dunk. We knew Andre Drummond and Will Barton weren’t going to end up in the finals so this was all about Gordon & LaVine. How did the defending champ enter the building? With a behind the back reverse under the rim off the bounce.

Gordon responded in kind with a between the legs dunk using the Orlando Magic mascot as a prop and taking the ball out of his hands.

From there, LaVine went to one of his favorite spots, the free throw line for a series of dunks. Back in July 2014, LaVine returned to his hometown of Seattle and destroyed a dunk competition with a vast array of dunks from the line. How did he start off his second set of dunks? He caught a perfect lob from Andre Miller, cocked it back from the line and smashed it home.

The final round was set. Gordon got a little modern and a little retro. First, the Magic mascot got on a hoverboard and spun around in a circle. Gordon somehow caught him at just the right angle, snatched the ball form his hands, hit the Karl Malone “dougie / Mailman” pose off a 360 and flushed it. 50.

Now, I would have called that the best dunk of the night solely based off the creativity of the whole thing. Then Aaron Gordon, Air Gordon if you will decided that enough was enough and broke into the NBA 2K / NBA Live bag for tricks, dropping what was easily the most jaw-dropping dunk of the night and left him an honorary citizen of Canada, Toronto and the next guy to get on a song with Drake. All of that.

Cue all of the Vince Carter “It’s over” .GIFs, right? Well, wrong. Zach LaVine, in all of his light skinned Sayian powers said he wanted to make history. That he wanted to Hotline Bling up and down the Air Canada Centre. Back to the free throw line. Windmill from there. Another 50.

With no winner determined from the first four 50s on the board, it meant the fans were getting a dunk off. Surely these two could stop right? J.Cole & Drake could have announced a world tour in the middle of the court and it wouldn’t have garnered the attention that LaVine & Gordon had created. El Debarge could have dropped a record with Christopher Williams and Al B Sure! with Steph Curry dropping in on the hook and still no. “Fine,” Gordon said. “We gotta dunk for the culture.”

“For the culture,” LaVine probably responded.

After LaVine’s last dunk, we were still deadlocked with three consecutive 50s apiece. Another dunk off had to ensue. Surely, these two would get tired. They’ve inspired a bunch of fellow light-skinned guys and fellow NBA ballers to start doing lunges and squats. This was better than IG honey’s slinging tea or waist trainers. More powerful than “I Believe I Can Fly”. Well, almost as powerful as “I Believe I Can Fly” but you get the point.

Gordon responded with the seventh dunk of the final round, a nasty double pump where he started behind his head then dropped the ball between his legs before rising back up with it. It was nasty, a powerful throwback to the days of ‘Nique.

The judges only gave it a 47.

Normally a 47 would be good. Strong even. This was the most hateful 47 you’ve ever seen in your life and the crowd knew it. So LaVine knew it. He had to impress a dunk contest judge field with Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutombo and more to repeat as champion. So he went back to jumping behind the free throw line and upped the difficulty on it.

Eastbay. From the line. Game over.

LaVine had repeated as Slam Dunk Champion but he also created one of the more memorable moments in Slam Dunk Contest and All-Star Weekend history. He also made certain to thank the late Flip Saunders after receiving his second Slam Dunk Contest trophy.

The end.

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