Slam Dunk Controversy Overshadowed by Legendary Battle
by Will Bucci on Friday, February 26th, 2016
As many of you probably watched, the NBA’s Sprite Slam Dunk Contest ended in an epic showdown between the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the defending champion of the event. While the contest ultimately ended with LaVine repeating his victory, controversy surrounded the decision made by the panel of judges, all well-known NBA legends. Gordon’s dunks were far more original, leading fans and spectators alike to wonder: what’s up with the judges’ scoring?
The judges, George Gervin, Dikembe Mutombo, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, and Magic Johnson, were too willing to give a perfect score to any dunk they saw that was mildly impressive. Shaq himself has torn down entire baskets. LaVine received the perfect 50 out of 50 for every single dunk in the contest, giving him the “perfect” performance (note the air quotes). That means, in every round—plus the extra dunks when Gordon and LaVine were tied at the end—each dunk was flawless. Many people, including me, are disappointed in this. LaVine did almost the same exact dunk three separate times during the contest, each one receiving the perfect 50 score.
The Slam Dunk Contest is all about original, insane dunks that are entertaining to watch. Seeing someone jump from roughly around the free throw line and dunking it over and over again is not entertaining in the slightest. LaVine’s dunks lacked originality. The whole “jumping from the free throw line to dunk, showing extreme athleticism” goes back many years to the great Julius Erving, better known as Doctor J, considered to be the first one to do flashy dunks during games. The fact of the matter is that the judges gave scores that were too high to dunks that were undeserving. The Slam Dunk Contest allows the nation’s best dunkers to show how creative they are in jamming a basketball into a hoop. The judges should be a lot more critical than they are to avoid a scenario such as this year’s finals. Each one of them has seen the legendary dunks by Vince Carter get a 50, and yet they throw the perfect score around as if it meant nothing. The extra rounds were fun to watch, but, in the end, the wrong guy walked away with the trophy.
In case you do not already know the answer to the question “Who really deserved to win?”, Aaron Gordon was the obvious choice. Not only were his dunks impressive, but they were creative. Even though he was forced to attempt two extra dunks in the tiebreaking rounds, Gordon continued to come up with an extremely impressive display. In one of his dunks, he jumped clear over the Orlando Magic mascot, who was standing on a hoverboard, with both legs in a seated position to dunk in reverse. Another involved the mascot rotating on the hoverboard, constantly changing the position of the ball. The response by LaVine was yet another free throw line dunk. This just goes to shows how the judging needs to be tweaked. The expectations need to be higher for the contestants, or else this same unfortunate incident will repeat itself over and over again.
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