Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. gave fans one of the most exciting Slam Dunk Contests we have seen in quite some time, but it is the controversial ending that has people wondering about the outcome. Gordon received a 47 after jumping over 7’5″ Celtics center Tacko Fall which would seal the victory for Jones.
After the dunk contest, comments by judges Candice Parker and Common indicate that Dwyane Wade went a bit off-script to help Jones land the trophy. It does not help Wade’s case that Jones plays for the Heat, the same franchise where the legendary guard is an icon.
Jones and Gordon’s performances caused the contest to go an extra round. After the contest, multiple judges commented that they expected the dunk contest would continue after Gordon’s dunk.
Common Admitted That “Someone Didn’t Do It Right” When It Came to the Final Scoring for the Slam Dunk Contest
Jones finished the night with a windmill after jumping from inside the free-throw line. The judges’ post-contest comments indicate the plan was to give Gordon the same score after jumping over Fall to allow the contest to keep going.
“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” Common told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”
An in-depth video breakdown by Twitter personality World Wide Wob shows Wade looks to be the only judge not surprised by the scoring. Wade pulls out his television earpiece and walks away from the scoring table as the other four judges stunningly look his direction.
Parker also seemed surprised by the final scoring and took to Instagram to defend herself after the contest.
Parker’s comments backed up what Common expected which was for Gordon and Jones to finish the round with the same score.
“Dunk contest judge @Candace_Parker— who gave Aaron Gordon a 10—tells ESPN, “I ain’t throwing anyone under the bus …. buttttt check the score card,” Shelburne tweeted.
Aaron Gordon Admitted He Will No Longer Compete in the Slam Dunk Contest
This is not the first time Gordon has been on the losing end of a close contest. Gordon lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in what was also a controversial ending. The Magic forward admitted that he is no longer competing in the contest after feeling he was robbed twice.
“I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s,” Gordon explained to ESPN. “That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?…It’s a wrap, bro. I feel like I should have two trophies.”
It is not just Gordon who was frustrated with the ending. Grizzlies guard Ja Morant declined to participate in the contest and indicated on Twitter that the judges did not do the NBA any favors in getting players to participate in future events.
“Judges are wilding ??♂️…y’all just made my decision easier ??,” Morant noted in a series of tweets.
Dwyane Wade’s Defense Cited Gordon Receiving Multiple 9’s From Other Judges
During an interview at his own NBA All-Star event, Wade defended his scoring by citing the fact that other judges also gave Gordon a nine for his final dunk. The problem is the judges appeared to be working together to come up with a score that was even to Jones.
“I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade told Complex Sports.
ESPN reported that the NBA would not allow two trophies to be awarded for the contest. It is possible that Jones still would have won if each judge had to name their winner, which ESPN reported would have been the tiebreaker. It is hard to argue that Jones’ final dunk inside the free-throw line was superior to Gordon’s leap over Fall.
“If the dunk contest was tied after that last dunk, the judges could have gone to a judges choice. Essentially, each would hold up a card with who was the best dunker all night. That’s what @common says he thought was the best outcome because ‘They were both so good,'” Shelburne tweeted.
Instead, an otherwise historic contest ended in confusion as one judge walked away from the table while the entire United Center appeared surprised by the ending. Even Wade’s friend LeBron James could not defend his former teammate after the suspicious scoring.
“2 ? should have been rewarded tonight that’s for damn sure!! Keep it a buck y’all. ??♂️!! Them boys both put on a show! Professional DUNKERS,” James tweeted.