Technically, Aaron Gordon lost the 2016 Slam Dunk contest. Apparently, they're not allowed to take a chainsaw, hack the trophy in half and say two people won the contest. So after Gordon and Zach LaVine threw down eight straight perfect dunks in the final round, earning four identical pairs of 50s, LaVine's incredible improvised fifth dunk beat Gordon's incredible improvised fifth dunk.
Technically Gordon lost, but he threw down some of the most unbelievable dunks the contest has ever seen.
Let's slow it down. pic.twitter.com/4lZ6iFp1wC— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 14, 2016
So, let's ignore the unimportant thing -- that Gordon was taking the ball from a hideous green dragon mascot -- and remember the important thing. That hideous green dragon mascot was holding a ball about seven feet in the air, Gordon caught it, passed it UNDER his legs, and dunked it. He sat down in an imaginary chair eight feet in the air.
Gordon put his feet higher than I've ever seen an NBA player put his feet, and while doing that, he switched the ball between his hands, threw his body into an unnatural position and still had enough power to throw a dunk down with authority. The athleticism and coordination to pull this dunk off is off the charts. This dunk is on the short list of the greatest dunks in the contest's history.
Again, let's ignore Stuff the Magic Dragon. (That's his real name.) Gordon took the ball from a spinning hand, did a 360, held the back of his head with one hand like Karl Malone, and jammed it. The timing to snag the ball from a moving target while doing a 360 of his own was ridiculous. We wouldn't have even noticed the hand on the back of the head if Gordon wasn't vehement about pointing it out.
AGAIN, LET'S IGNORE STUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON ON A HOVERBOARD. Gordon cleared a 7-foot obstacle, put the ball through his legs, and dunked. This is a contest-winning dunk in a lot of years. It was his first dunk in a first round that will be widely forgotten.
Even the dunks that Gordon improvised -- amongst a cavalcade of consecutive 50-point forced extra dunks -- were incredible. This was the dunk Gordon *LOST* on.
He started with a tomahawk, then brought the ball down to his legs and threw it down behind his head. He had time to do three violent motions with his arms while holding the ball. And dunked. He made this dunk up on the spot. And it didn't work.
Gordon's performance was the best by any dunk contest loser of all time. Many will point to the Dominique Wilkins/Michael Jordan contest from 1988 because both players were Hall of Famers and the things they were doing were completely unprecedented by the standards of the day. But if we're honest, the stuff Gordon did Saturday night would've won that contest (and almost any other in NBA history.)
He didn't win Saturday night's contest. Gordon won't get a trophy and he won't get the $105,000 prize that winners get. Some will say Gordon was robbed. Personally, I was more impressed by Gordon's final dunk than LaVine's last dunk, but I don't want to rain on LaVine's dunk parade. LaVine's showing was unreal as well.
Instead of griping, I'm just going to be happy that we saw two of the greatest dunk contest performances ever on the same damn night. All we can do is hope that Gordon and LaVine come back next year to go head-to-head with preposterous, beautiful dunks one more time.