Philadelphia 76ers guard Mac McClung capped off what was likely the best week of his professional basketball career with an unlikely win in the NBA All Star AT&T Slam Dunk Contest — and some kudos from the player that McClung calls the “goat.”
McClung was a surprise entrant into this year’s Dunk Contest, with the NBA extending an invitation for him to compete while he was still on a G League contract and had yet to sign his new two-way deal with the Sixers. Though there was some pushback to the first-ever G League player to be invited to compete, McClung stole the show on February 18 with a trio of perfect-score dunks.
After he took home the win, McClung got some love from around the league.
Steph Curry Shares Love for McClung
McClung’s win seemed especially impressive to Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, who took to Twitter to marvel at the journey that the 24-year-old has traveled to reach the NBA.
“Man was a viral HOH high school dunk phenom, still working his way to the League, but lemme go get that dunk contest trophy right quick and bring it back to life!!! Unreal #macmclung,” Curry tweeted.
McClung thanked Curry for the kind words, calling the two-time MVP the “goat.”
“Appreciate you goat. The dream is the journey,” McClung tweeted in reply.
The Sixers guard got plenty of other love, from Shaquille O’Neal’s viral reaction watching the dunks in person to Magic Johnson’s declaration that McClung “saved” the Dunk Contest.
“Mac McClung has personally saved the slam dunk contest with his performance tonight!! He put on a show!” Johnson tweeted, adding a trio of fire emoji.
McClung had already gotten some spotlight in the night before the dunk contest, competing in Friday’s Rising Stars game and notching 10 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal in just nine minutes.
McClung Excited for Next Phase of His Career
McClung put in plenty of work to get his opportunity with the Sixers this season. As The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman noted, the 2021-22 G League Rookie of the Year had offers to play in Europe for Turkey’s Fenerbahce, but opted to stay in the G League at a significantly lower salary for the chance at breaking through into the NBA.
“I still believe going to a Fenerbahce also can propel your career back here in the NBA. So I’m not taking that out of the picture at all,” McClung said. “When you have multiple million-dollar offers, you’re like, ‘That could change my life and my family’s life forever.’ So I wanted to take that into consideration. But [high school friend Zac Ervin] called me and was like, ‘Mac, you’re all or nothing, man.’ ”
McClung said he’s been staying ready for his chance at the NBA and excited for what he can do as a two-way player for the Sixers.
“I wanted to make sure I was always available,” McClung said. “Like no matter what, no matter the point of time, I’m going to be available to get that call-up and get that situation. And when that time comes, I’ll be ready for it.”