Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon's entry to last weekend's Slam Dunk Contest left jaws on the floor, even if it wasn't quite enough to give him the victory. The dunk took Gordon clear over the head of the Magic mascot, where he grabbed the ball from the mascot's hands and then dunked from underneath his legs.
In the days after the contest, a widely circulated ESPN Sport Science video made a claim that would have seemed preposterous with any other dunk: Gordon's leap, Sport Science claimed, would have earned him a bronze medal in the high jump at the 2012 Olympic Games.
What might an Olympic high jumper have to say about that?
I spoke to Derek Drouin, a Canadian high jumper and the reigning world champion, as well as the current Pan Am champion and Commonwealth Games champion. He is the seventh-highest jumper of all time, with a personal best of 2.40m (7'10.5).
Drouin won bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games with a jump of 2.29m (7'6.12) -- the height that the Sport Science video claims Gordon's dunk (listed at 7'7 in the video) would have beaten for the medal.
"I thought that the dunk was jaw-dropping," says Drouin. "It's a shame that he didn't walk away with the trophy."
But would it have qualified at the Olympics? Not so fast, says Drouin.
"This jump wouldn't have been legal in a high jump competition for a couple of reasons," Drouin says, "the most obvious being that he takes off with two feet, which is illegal in high jump."
"In the high jump, you need to get every single part of your body over a bar, and time everything up perfectly."
In the graphic above, Gordon's feet hang significantly below the rest of his body -- so the 7'7 jump height given isn't correct.
Additionally, Gordon got an extra vertical boost when he grabbed the ball from the Magic mascot and used it to push off further, a mitigating factor that is mentioned in the video.
Could Gordon have gone even higher had he forsaken the dunk and used traditional high-jump form?
"If he had taken measures to actually attempt to get his body over a 7'7 bar, like lifting his feet up for example, he would have to sacrifice some of the height that he had gained under his butt," says Drouin. "Basically, in order to raise one part of your body, you need to lower another part. Because he's basically sitting straight up, it's impossible to tell how high he really could have jumped over a bar."
Still -- even if it wasn't quite Olympic medal-worthy, Gordon's jump was incredibly high. Should he think about a change of career?
"There is a lot of correlation between the two acts of jumping so I'm sure with some practice, he could be a formidable high jumper," says Drouin.
But Gordon might be better off in the NBA.
"Would I recommend he take up high jumping, absolutely not," says Drouin. "There's much more prestige in basketball if that's something that interests him, and there's certainly a lot more to be gained financially on the court vs. on a track.
"That being said, if he ever wanted to make the change I'm sure he could be successful."