Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon stage an epic showdown
POSTED: Feb 14, 2016 2:35 PM ET
Zach LaVine became the first back-to-back winner since Nate Robinson in 2009 and 2010.
Toronto — Verizon Slam Dunk
Winner: Zach LaVine
High expectations? No problem.
After bringing the Dunk Contest back to prominence one year ago with a series of electrifying dunks, Minnesota's Zach LaVine picked up where he left off, with help from Orlando's Aaron Gordon.
And with the Verizon Slam Dunk on the line, Zach LaVine went to the free throw line. Well, almost.
Inside Access: 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk
It was an epic dunk off between Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon, but LaVine defended his title, to become the 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk Champion.
With a through-the-legs dunk from just inside the charity stripes, Zach LaVine earned his fifth score of 50 on the night, making him the 2016 NBA dunk champ. The 20-year-old LaVine became the first back-to-back winner since Nate Robinson in 2009 and 2010.
Going against Magic forward Aaron Gordon in the contest finals, LaVine and Gordon got locked into a heavyweight bout where they traded incredible body blows. After the contest, LaVine said, "We should share the trophy, because [Gordon] did some stuff I've never seen before."
To begin the final round, Gordon completed a dunk with an unbelievable degree of difficulty, snatching the ball from Orlando Magic mascot Stuff -- who was spinning on a hoverboard -- and throwing down a twisting dunk. This earned a 50. LaVine countered by throwing himself an alley-oop and floating through the air for a one-handed finish, earning another 50.
Gordon then again used Stuff, this time clearing the mascot with his rear end while passing the ball below for a lefty finish. That earned another 50, putting the pressure on LaVine.
Dunk Contest Duel
Re-live the historic showdown between high-fliers Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon from the 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk contest from All-Star Saturday.
LaVine responded coolly, with a windmill from just inside the free throw line, for another 50. This marked the first time in Dunk Contest history the final round saw four scores of 50.
They didn't stop. In the first dunk-off, Gordon enlisted teammate Elfrid Payton to throw an alley-oop off the side of the backboard. Gordon caught the ball and completed a reverse dunk while flying through the air. 50. LaVine responded by throwing an alley-oop to himself from the baseline, catching the ball and passing it through his legs for a reverse dunk. This earned another 50.
On the second dunk-off, Gordon ran along the baseline and did a two-handed double-pump reverse reminiscent of Dominique Wilkins. Gordon scored a 47. To win it, LaVine went back to the free throw line.
The evening opened with Denver swingman Will Barton making a "Thriller"-themed entrance, wearing a red leather jacket and accompanied by dancing zombies. For his first dunk, Barton passed the ball through his legs and finished with a two-handed reverse. Barton received a 44. For his second dunk, Barton attempted several dunks, but was unable to complete any, finishing with a second dunk score of 30.
While big men have traditionally struggled to score highly in the dunk contest, Detroit center Andre Drummond hoped to change that trend. But after struggling to complete his first dunk and scoring only a 36, Drummond brought out Canadian legend and noted soccer aficionado Steve Nash to deliver an alley-oop via a kick. Nash proved to be a more accurate passer with his hands, needing several attempts and one missed dunk before Drummond finally completed a windmill off of a kick, earning a score of 39.
Phantom Cam: LaVine's Free-Throw Special
Watch in slow motion as Zach LaVine catches the lob from Andre Miller, bounding from the free-throw line in the 2016 Verizon Slam Dunk contest.
Gordon entered wearing a tuxedo and carrying a cane. For his first dunk he went through his legs and completed a one-handed dunk for a score of 45. For his second dunk, Gordon tapped the zeitgeist and involved Orlando mascot Stuff riding a hoverboard. After one missed attempt, Gordon then jumped over the mascot, passed the ball between his legs, and dunked it home, earning a score of 49. (Shaquille O'Neal was the lone judge to award a 9.)
For his first dunk, after giving a hug to Drake, Zach LaVine threw an alley-oop to himself, passed the ball behind his back from right-to-left, and finished with a reverse right-handed dunk, scoring the night's first 50. It was ridiculous enough that fellow competitor Drummond could only shake his head in disbelief. For his second dunk, LaVine brought out teammate Andre Miller and, after one miss, had Miller toss an alley-oop while he soared from just inside the free throw line. LaVine tomahawked the ball home for a score of 49. (O'Neal again was the lone judge to award a 9.)
-- Lang Whitaker
* Zach LaVine, Minnesota Timberwolves
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets
* Defending champion
2016 - Zach LaVine, Minnesota
2015 - Zach LaVine, Minnesota
2014 - John Wall, Washington
2013 - Terrence Ross, Toronto
2012 - Jeremy Evans, Utah
2011 - Blake Griffin, L.A. Clippers
2010 - Nate Robinson, New York
2009 - Nate Robinson, New York
2008 - Dwight Howard, Orlando
2007 - Gerald Green, Boston
2006 - Nate Robinson, New York
2005 - Josh Smith, Atlanta
2004 - Fred Jones, Indiana
2003 - Jason Richardson, Golden State
2002 - Jason Richardson, Golden State
2001 - Desmond Mason, Seattle
2000 - Vince Carter, Toronto
1997 - Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
1996 - Brent Barry, L.A. Clippers
1995 - Harold Miner, Miami
1994 - Isaiah Rider, Minnesota
1993 - Harold Miner, Miami
1992 - Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix
1991 - Dee Brown, Boston
1990 - Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta
1989 - Kenny Walker, New York
1988 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1987 - Michael Jordan, Chicago
1986 - Spud Webb, Atlanta
1985 - Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta
1984 - Larry Nance, Phoenix