Donovan Mitchell won the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest, but Dennis Smith Jr. gave us the dunk we’ll never forget.
With his second dunk of the opening round, the Mavericks’ rookie — who is barely over 6’0 — pulled off a twirling reverse between-the-legs finish with his off hand:
It combined Vince Carter’s reverse 360 from 2000 with some East Bay Funk-ish ball movement, all with Smith’s own personal flair. It took Smith three tries, but to even pull this off at all is one of the great feats in Dunk Contest history.
It’s especially incredible considering this fact:
Amazing but true. Dennis Smith Jr says he can't palm the ball. Consider that after watching that last dunk. Wow.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 18, 2018
Sadly, Smith’s accomplishment didn’t even get him past the preliminary round due to the Dunk Contest’s wonky scoring system. Fifty is a perfect score, which meant Smith’s feat was worth the same number of points as Mitchell’s less impressive scissor-kick slam over Kevin Hart and others.
Smith’s other dunk — a double-clutch reverse that was reminiscent of Aaron Gordon in 2016 — was harshly rated a 39. That combined score of 89 put Smith behind Mitchell and Larry Nance Jr. and, therefore, out of the finals.
Below is a series of midair pictures captured by Getty and USA Today photographers at different vantage points in the STAPLES Center. It should give everyone an idea of the athleticism and grace required for Smith to pull off this slam:
He knew immediately he shut the place down: