by Brendan Ripley-Barasch
The participants in the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest included, Denver Nuggets SG Will Barton, Pistons Center Andre Drummond, Orlando Magic PF Aaron Gordon, and defending champion Zach LaVine. The contest kicked off with Barton and Drummond scoring sub-par scores which left fans wondering if this would be another lackluster event. But then the event changed course when Gordon threw down a between-the-legs reverse dunk, this got the crowd going. LaVine answered with a behind-the-back reverse slam, scoring a whopping 50 from the scorer’s table. After this, it was obvious that the contest would be decided between these two heavyweights. Back and forth they went, one spectacular slam-dunk after another. LaVine’s success came from his multiple slams after leaping from the free-throw line and Gordon’s highlight of the night was when he executed a between-the-legs over the mascot dunk which many are claiming one of the greatest dunks ever performed in the history of the Dunk Contest. The two high-flyers ended the night in a dunk-off which eventually saw Zach LaVine walk away with the hardware for the second straight year. This contest provided the entertainment and fun that fans and media had been hungry to see, from the variety of crazy slams to the reactions of LaVine’s teammates and competitors.
The media held this dunk contest in high regards along with the fans. Stephen A. on first take went so far as to say, “To me the Slam-Dunk Contest was resurrected Saturday night.” He also went on to give his opinion on how he thought Aaron Gordon should have won and how Shaq dishing out low scores played a pivotal part in raising the bar to contestants so they would give a great performance. There were also multiple media personnel that compared the showdown of LaVine and Gordon to Dunk-Contest greats Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. This is the quite comparison and just demonstrates how these players have brought the event back to the forefront of All-Star weekend entertainment.
In my opinion, this contest certainly was entertaining and may have changed many people’s outlook on the competition. I thought even the 2015 dunk contest took a huge step forward in drawing in viewers and causing a buzz around the league as well as the twitter-sphere. We can only hope as fans and as media that the Dunk Contests to follow will be as entertaining as this one.