Shock and anger as NBA dunk contest ends in controversy

United States

Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr has celebrated his 23rd birthday by winning the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest, edging Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon in a memorable showdown that required two tiebreaker jams.

Key points:

  • Aaron Gordon leapt over Tacko Fall, the tallest player in the NBA, but still didn’t win the dunk contest
  • It’s the second time Gordon has been considered unlucky not to win, after also missing out in 2016
  • Derrick Jones Jr became the second Heat player to win on the day after Bam Adebayo won the skills challenge

Jones and Gordon each got a perfect 50 on both of their dunks in the final, before registering two more perfect scores on their first jam in the dunk-off.

Jones then took off from just inside the foul line and threw down a windmill jam with his left hand, drawing a 48 from the panel of five judges.

After a short discussion with Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, Gordon brought out 7’5″ Boston Celtics rookie Tacko Fall and positioned him near the basket. He then took the ball from Fall’s hands on his way to a thunderous two-handed dunk.

The United Centre gasped as the courtside NBA stars celebrated, but Gordon was controversially awarded a 47 by the five judges — three nines and two 10s — giving the victory to Jones.


Aaron Gordon clears Tacko Fall, but still falls short. (Reuters: Kyle Terada)

Gordon also lost a memorable dunk contest to Zach LaVine in 2016, and let his frustration be known.

“What are we doing, man? What are we doing? Who set the dunk contest up, man?” Gordon said.

“I wanted to jump over Shaq. He didn’t want to do it. Jumping over someone who’s 7’5” and dunking it is no easy feat.

“What’d I get? A 47? C’mon man. What’re we doing?

“I don’t even know who gave me the nines. I’ma find ’em tonight.”


Gordon’s dunk over Tacko brought the house down, but wasn’t enough to win. (Reuters: Quinn Harris)

Twice scorned, Gordon said this would be the last dunk contest he would compete in.

“It’s a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies, so it’s over for that. My next goal is going to be to try and win the three-point contest,” he said.

Jones said he would have been happy to keep the contest going.


Derrick Jones Jr sails through the air en route to winning the 2020 dunk contest. (Reuters: Kyle Terada)

“He clipped Tacko’s head when he did that dunk so they couldn’t have given him a 50 for that one,” he said.

“I would have respected if they gave him another 48 so we can go again.”

Earlier, Heat big man Bam Adebayo won the skills challenge and Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield won the three-point contest.

Australia’s Ben Simmons will play in the All Star game on Monday (AEDT).