AT&T Slam Dunk Winner: Mac McClung, Philadelphia 76ers
SALT LAKE CITY — The AT&T Slam Dunk Contest was won by a player who technically isn’t in the NBA.
But that will change if the Sixers are just as impressed with their G-League player as the judges were Saturday.
Mac McClung executed perfect 50s on all but one of his dunks to win the contest over Trey Murphy III of the Pelicans in the final.
In his final dunk, McClung delivered a 360-degree plus — meaning, he went 360 plus a few more degrees in an added reversal — that earned him a hug from Dominique Wilkins, a two-time dunk contest winner and one of the judges. For that dunk, McClung, who’s 6-2 and 180 pounds, wore his high school jersey; he broke Allen Iverson’s Virginia scoring record at Gate City High.
McClung is an interesting story. He has only four games of NBA experience. He has spent more time in the G-League, currently with the Delaware Blue Coats, and previously with the South Bay Lakers, where he was the league’s rookie of the year.
But he didn’t stick with the Lakers, or the Warriors, who invited him to camp. McClung says he realizes he needs to improve his ball-handling, which is the only barrier keeping him from the league.
He recorded a 43 1/2-inch vertical leap at the 2021 NBA Combine and became a YouTube sensation from his dunks in high school. He’s the first G-Leaguer to participate in the contest. And he’s also enjoying a solid season in the G-League, averaging 19.1 points, 4.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds in 18 games, shooting 50% from beyond the 3-point line.
McClung won the dunk crowd from the start with a perfect score when he dunked over two friends, tapping the backboard along the way.
The other contestants in the four-player field were KJ Martin of the Rockets and Jericho Sims of the Knicks, who were eliminated in the preliminaries.
The judges were Wilkins and another two-time champ, Harold Miner, along with Lisa Leslie, Karl Malone and Jamal Crawford. The trophy was awarded by Julius Erving, the first dunk champion, and named after him.
— Shaun Powell
Kenyon Martin Jr., Houston Rockets
Mac McClung, Philadelphia 76ers
Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans
Jericho Sims, New York Knicks
Jamal Crawford, three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year
Lisa Leslie, eight-time WNBA All-Star
Karl Malone, 14-time NBA All-Star
Harold Miner, two-time Slam Dunk champion
Dominique Wilkins, nine-time NBA All-Star and two-time Slam Dunk champion