Dikembe Mutombo deserved better.
The only highlight from Saturday’s snore-inducing dunk contest was a video of the NBA Hall of Famer expressing the same exact feeling as the rest of us watching at home: pure disappointment.
Honestly, the dunk contest ended only five minutes before I started writing, and I can’t remember a single thing that happened. I would rather watch DNCE perform all four of their songs on repeat than watch Derrick Jones Jr. do the same dunk from a different angle for two rounds.
Anyway, let’s hand out some grades for the dunk contest, which could go away for 10 years and save all of us a great deal of time.
DeAndre Jordan: C-
Jordan gets some level of respect for performing the only mildly exciting dunk of the night, taking a hand-off from DJ Khaled and throwing down a pedestrian dunk while the rap mogul Snapchatted the attempt. While the concept was somewhat funny, Khaled’s Snapchat has been out of the zeitgeist for months, and the dunk itself was far from impressive.
Jordan’s second dunk was cool if you’ve never seen someone go between the legs before, which is literally no one who has ever watched a dunk contest. To make matters worse, Jordan didn’t even mean to dunk the ball on his second attempt, but the ball went through the hoop so the judges had to accept it. At least, that’s what I think happened, because I have no recollection of DeAndre Jordan even appearing on my television.
Aaron Gordon: F
Gordon’s first dunk attempt was a glorified Intel commercial, but the unique spectacle of him using a drone for a dunk quickly gave way to an extremely monotonous process in which Gordon would miss his attempt and the arena would wait silently as someone reloaded the drone with the ball. Gordon finally connected on the slam on his last try, but by then any excitement in the Smoothie King Center had fallen off the edge of our flat world.
Gordon’s second dunk could have been cool, but he never connected on the attempt, and failed to advance to the final round. Gordon probably should have won last year’s contest, but as great as he was in 2016, he was equally awful this year.
Derrick Jones Jr.: D
Derrick Jones Jr., who has played only 24 minutes in the NBA, was the most anonymous competitor in the 2017 contest. He will remain not famous after Saturday night. Jones’s first dunk was supposed to be a slam over four people, except he pushed off which significantly ruined the effect of the slam.
Jones’s second dunk was pretty cool, as he caught a lob off the side of the backboard and went through his legs before throwing it down. The problem is, if no one knows who you are, you need to do a cooler dunk than one that we’ve seen in many variations in the past. Jones was supposed to bring a streetball element to the competition, but he should probably stay in the G-League next season.
Jones somehow made it to the final round, but he couldn‘t connect on his first dunk, and he earned what seemed to be a completely rigged/pity 50 on his other attempt.
Glenn Robinson III: C+
Robinson gets the C+, with the plus coming as a result of his victory, which largely happened by default. Robinson’s first dunk was arguably the dunk of the night—he threw down a reverse after grabbing the ball from someone who was perched on someone else’s shoulders. The best part of the slam was Robinson milking the setup, continuously asking the person holding the ball to go higher until he reached his perch.
Robinson’s second dunk had high potential, but like Jordan, he scored by accident, and the lack of force on the slam ruined what would have been a 360-degree, Dee Brown tribute.
Robinson’s final dunks weren’t particularly spectacular, and he was aided greatly by Jones missing one of his attempts. Three of Robinson’s dunks were practically the same, yet the rest of the field was so bad he ended up the winner.