WINNER: Derrick Jones Jr.
The last Slam Dunk contest won in this city was in 1988, when Michael Jordan famously outdueled Atlanta Hawks dunk king Dominique Wilkins in an epic battle between two of the greatest showman the league has ever seen.
Jordan won on a controversial finish that night.
And there will be just as much controversy after Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. edged Orlando’s Aaron Gordon by a single point in a dunk off after Gordon scored six straight perfect 50s en route to the final. Gordon cleared 7-foot-6 Boston rookie Tacko Fall, the tallest player in the league, and dunked with two hands on his final attempt.
It was the final piece in what had been a magical night for Gordon, who lost to Chicago’s Zach LaVine in an epic finish during All-Star Saturday night in 2016.
Instead of walking off with the trophy Gordon felt the sting of yet another questionable finish when the judges awarded him a 47 for his final dunk, with Dwyane Wade, Chadwick Boseman and Bulls Hall of Famers all giving him nines rather than the 10s he was awarded for all of his previous dunks.
Jones posted four straight 50s of his own until his final attempt in the dunk off, when he scored a 48 after a soaring tomahawk dunk.
Gordon was shocked after seeing his final score, as was the United Center crowd, which was once again treated to yet another one of the all-time great dunk contests in league history.
Veteran Lakers big man Dwight Howard, the 2008 winner of the Sprite Slam Dunk contest, couldn’t recreate the Superman magic that led him to his previous title. He tried, with an updated Superman dunk (complete with a cape, a Superman chest logo shout out to Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality ad an assist from former Magic teammate Jameer Nelson). He got a 49 for that dunk but he didn’t advance past the second round after receiving a 41 on his first attempt.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton nailed two creative dunks, a White Man Can’t Jump parody dunk for his first one and then scored a perfect 50 of his own when he jumped over his Bucks teammate and reigning Kia MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on his final dunk of the night.
But the fun was just beginning, as Gordon and Jones traded jaw-dropping dunks that left the arena buzzing long after the competition was over.
The final two rounds saw Jones Jr. and Gordon take turns defying gravity with their dunks.
Jones kicked it off by jumping over two people and finishing with a between the legs scoop dunk for 50.
Gordon answered by dunked over the Chance the Rapper for a second time, this one while twisting in the air and finishing with his right hand.
On his second dunk of the final round Jones caught the ball off the backboard and went between his legs on the finish for another 50, a jam that left Dwyane Wade speechless. Even Heat boss Pat Riley was spotted in the crowd clapping and smiling.
But Gordon came right back with what looked like the dunk of the night, a one-handed 360 lush off the toss from a Magic point guard Markelle Fultz for another perfect score.
The dunk off is where things got tricky and ultimately where Jones Jr.. prevailed by the slimmest of margins.
• Pat Connaughton, Milwaukee
• Aaron Gordon, Orlando
• Dwight Howard, Los Angeles
• Derrick Jones Jr., Miami
Slam Dunk Contest Winners:
- 1984 – Larry Nance, Phoenix
- 1985 – Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta
- 1986 – Spud Webb, Atlanta
- 1987 – Michael Jordan, Chicago
- 1988 – Michael Jordan, Chicago
- 1989 – Kenny Walker, New York
- 1990 – Dominique Wilkins, Atlanta
- 1991 – Dee Brown, Boston
- 1992 – Cedric Ceballos, Phoenix
- 1993 – Harold Miner, Miami
- 1994 – Isaiah Rider, Minnesota
- 1995 – Harold Miner, Miami
- 1996 – Brent Barry, LA Clippers
- 1997 – Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
- 2000 – Vince Carter, Toronto
- 2001 – Desmond Mason, Seattle
- 2002 – Jason Richardson, Golden State
- 2003 – Jason Richardson, Golden State
- 2004 – Fred Jones, Indiana
- 2005 – Josh Smith, Atlanta
- 2006 – Nate Robinson, New York
- 2007 – Gerald Green, Boston
- 2008 – Dwight Howard, Orlando
- 2009 – Nate Robinson, New York
- 2010 – Nate Robinson, New York
- 2011 – Blake Griffin, LA Clippers
- 2012 – Jeremy Evans, Utah
- 2013 – Terrence Ross, Toronto
- 2014 – East (Paul George, Terrence Ross, John Wall)
- 2015 – Zach LaVine, Minnesota
- 2016 – Zach LaVine, Minnesota
- 2017 – Glenn Robinson III, Indiana
- 2018 – Donovan Mitchell, Utah
- 2019 – Hamidou Diallo, Oklahoma City