He was completely robbed of a Dunk Contest title after unleashing five straight perfect 50s and then dunking over Tacko Fall. What a travesty.

Good morning. Let’s yell about the Dunk Contest.

Esto Es Malo, Francisco Goya

You’re supposed to prepare four jams for the Slam Dunk Contest at All-Star: two for the preliminary rounds, two for the final round. If the the final round is tied, the competitors do two more dunks, which is absurd but happened in both 2016 and now in 2020. And in both cases, Aaron Gordon ran out of dunks.

In 2016, Zach LaVine did straight-up win the contest in the final round — his last dunk (under the leg from a step inside the free throw line) was marginally better than Gordon’s last dunk (baseline tomahawk to reverse two-handed pump). (I encourage you to watch the 2016 final round again, if only just to hear Kenny Smith yell as much about ending the contest in a tie as he did in 2020.)

In 2020, Gordon was robbed. He had two 50s in the prelim round. He had two 50s in the final round. He had another 50 in the first tiebreaker. AND THEN HE DUNKED OVER TACKO FALL.

Derrick Jones Jr. had some good dunks, too. Even a couple of great dunks. But nothing like Gordon’s repertoire.

But Jones got a 48 on his last dunk, the judges gave Gordon a 47 for JUMPING OVER TACKO FALL, and Jones won.

Gordon is 0-3 in NBA Dunk Contests despite having more 50s than anyone in history.

It turns out the judges colluded to end the contest in a tie after Gordon’s final dunk, but someone screwed it up. From ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:

"We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, 'This is a tie!'" one judge, hip-hop artist Common, told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "But somebody didn't do it right. I don't know who it is."

Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker, another judge on the panel, confirmed that they had intended for the second dunk-off to result in a tie.

One of the other three judges — Dwyane Wade, Chadwick Boseman and Scottie Pippen — was supposed to give Gordon a 10 with the other two delivering 9s to get to 48 and move to a judge-by-judge vote on who should win. But whoever that was botched it.


Gordon would have almost certainly won the judges’ pick.

As it is, Gordon questioned the whole operation, said he should have two trophies and said he’s not doing any more dunk contests. Who could blame him?

What a nightmare. Best dunk contest dunker of this era, and no wins.


Buddy Ball

Just an incredible wrap to the three-point contest, with Buddy Hield edging Devin Booker in the title round on his very last shot!

Great contest. The Kings finally win something!

Bam Has Skills

Bam Adebayo for the win on the Skills Challenge. Cool!


Huge, must-read Zach Lowe deep-dive profile on Bam Adebayo.

Marc Stein on Luka Doncic’s first All-Star Game.

Seerat Sohi on how the Raptors’ coaching staff functionally works.

Inside Zion Williamson’s debut at NBA All-Star.

“The Truth Was Way Worse” — an essay in Players’ Tribune from Eddy Curry.

Ricky O’Donnell on the city of Chicago quitting on the Bulls.

What the NBA’s first All-Star Game was like.

We’ll be back on Monday morning. Enjoy the All-Star Game. Be excellent to each other.