February 19, 2016

AKABAS | Top 10 Dunks from the 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest

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On Thursday, February 11th, over 1,000 scientists were credited with discovering the existence of gravitational waves. Two nights later, at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine discovered that gravity doesn’t even exist at all. Gordon and LaVine put down never-before-seen dunk after never-before-seen dunk and needed two tiebreaker rounds to ultimately crown LaVine as the champion. They were so good that the other two candidates should have strongly considered just pulling a Ben Carson and not come out onto the stage. What follows is my attempt to rank the 10 best jams from what might have been the greatest dunk contest of all-time.

  1. LaVine’s 360 Alley Oop

The only knock on this dunk is that Gordon did the exact same dunk like 45 seconds earlier, except involving a cute, furry mascot and a hoverboard. But LaVine’s dunk is incredible if you watch it on its own the same way that Star Wars VII is still a great movie even though it doesn’t add anything new to the Star Wars universe.

  1. LaVine’s Near Free-Throw Line Between-the-Legs

It feels silly to rank a between-the-legs slam from that far out this low on the list, but the contest was just that good. Sue me.

  1. LaVine’s Behind-the-Back Alley Oop

It’s absurd how easy he makes it look because that dunk is not in any way easy, and I know this because I tried it on a Nerf hoop. Also, shout out to Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns for killing it all night long with their post-dunk reactions. Really great stuff, guys!

  1. Gordon’s Between-the-Legs over the Mascot

As my mom astutely commented, “Mascots are so fun… except when they’re really stupid.” It’s one of the truer statements I’ve heard in a long time.

  1. Gordon’s Off the Side of the Backboard Windmill Reverse

Gordon had clearly exhausted (that word is so hard to spell) his repertoire of rehearsed dunks, yet he was able to just walk up and do this ho-hum, twisting, acrobatic display on the first try. And as presidential candidate Marco Rubio proved in the GOP debate two weeks ago, it isn’t so easy coming up with new material when the stuff you’ve rehearsed doesn’t get the job done.

  1. Gordon’s Double Pump

Much like The Prestige and Inception, this dunk can only be truly appreciated after multiple viewings, when you realize how far back behind his head Gordon brought the ball.

  1. LaVine’s Free-Throw Line Alley Oop

When you elicit the “I have two prelims tomorrow and I just found out that I also have an essay due tomorrow” reaction from Dikembe Mutombo, you did something right.

  1. LaVine’s Free-Throw Line Windmill

It’s almost like Zach LaVine has some sort of vendetta against Isaac Newton. On a related note, we need to stop teaching in schools that acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 meters per second per second, because that’s just not a true fact anymore.

  1. Gordon’s 360 with the Spinning Mascot

This was one of the greatest displays of human creativity since some guy decided to combine a croissant and a donut and call it a cronut. It also marked the first effective use of a hoverboard since Marty McFly’s maneuver at the beginning of Back to the Future: Part II.


Photo Courtesy of Mark Blinch, The Canadian Press

Photo Courtesy of Mark Blinch, The Canadian Press


  1. Gordon’s Under-the-Legs Over the Mascot

Watch in the background as Andre Drummond literally collapses into the ground. It’s unbelievable how high up Gordon gets on this slam, which was possibly the best in the history of the event. Gordon got robbed. No, it wasn’t a robbery on the level of Chicago winning Best Picture over Lord of the Rings; it was more of a Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction situation. Nobody deserved to lose, but in a way, maybe, kind of, sort of, the other one deserved to win more.