Aaron Gordon was the runaway favorite in the 2017 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest, and the Orlando Magic forward blew his golden opportunity. After losing in heartbreaking fashion to Minnesota's Zach LaVine last year, Gordon bombed out in the first round of the competition, making way for Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III to take home the crown.
It was a war of attrition more than anything. The 2017 Dunk Contest was plagued with bad misses, high-wire acts that misfired, and barely-made dunks that wouldn't cut it in a D-League competition, let alone in the main event. Robinson III sprinkled in a couple of flashy finishes, but it wasn't quite enough to make up for a listless night overall.
We missed you, Zach LaVine.
DeAndre Jordan incorporated DJ Khaled and social media into his first attempt, performing what might be the very first Snapchat dunk in contest history.
Glenn Robinson III announced his arrival on the scene with authority, executing a sick one-handed flush over a pair of piggybacked men.
Derrick Jones Jr., the biggest unknown in the competition, jumped over four people—including the Suns Gorilla!—but had points deducted after he pushed off of the last man in the line to get it done.
In the sponsored portion of the competition, Aaron Gordon had some help from an Intel drone on his first attempt. But there was a bit of trouble with the execution, and—perhaps in a bit of pay-for-play shenanigans—Gordon got a fourth chance to complete the dunk.
Cool concept, meh execution. The judges responded accordingly, handing Gordon the lowest score of the opening round with a 38. Social media wasn't too crazy about it either:
Gordon failed to complete his second attempt, leaving fans wondering what might have been if he had shown up to the competition healthy. The other big name was just as forgettable; Jordan's second dunk was technically impressive, but the finish left a lot to be desired:
Thankfully, Jones Jr. woke the crowd up from its slumber with some assistance from Suns teammate Devin Booker. He went off the side of the glass with a through-the-legs windmill, turning in the best second attempt for the field.
Virtually unknown to a lot of the NBA world prior to the dunk contest, Jones Jr. had people caping for him left and right after that one:
After his perfect score in the first round, Robinson III tried to pull off a 360 degree Dee Brown tribute, but as with Jordan, the finish couldn't put the exclamation point on a creative attempt.
Robinson brought out Pacers teammate Paul George for his first attempt in the final round, but he failed to leave a lasting impression with the windmill flush:
If you thought Jones Jr. would ride his momentum into the final frame, guess again! He trotted out a modified version of his Round 1 dunk, and was unable to complete the attempt in his allotted three tries. The judges awarded him a 37 anyway, keeping him in range of a title:
Jones made an impressive, through-the-legs dunk for his final attempt of the night, but the judges gave him a curiously-high score of 50 to set the stage for Robinson's last attempt. It was nice and better than most of the attempts for the event, but perfection is a bit of a stretch for this:
Thankfully, GRIII ended the night with a spectacular dunk, combining power and verticality with the reverse slam over a mascot, a cheerleader, and Paul George:
Whether it was the reliance on props and bodies to jump over or just a lackluster field, this year's event didn't have the sizzle of the last couple years. A comeback tour for LaVine might be necessary to jumpstart the competition next year, but failing that, we need some more ingenuity and a lot better execution for the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest to head back in the right direction.
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