LaVine soars to win slam dunk contest again

TORONTO • Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic to retain his title as the National Basketball Association Slam Dunk champion on Saturday, after both impressed with gravity-defying displays of athleticism and imagination.

In one of the most riveting slam dunk contests in recent years, LaVine and Gordon went toe-to-toe in the first two rounds of the final round before needing a pair of tie-breakers, where the former sealed the win with his fourth consecutive perfect 50 score.

"We should share the trophy, because (Gordon) did some stuff I've never seen before," LaVine said.

LaVine, a 20-year-old second-year NBA player, joined Michael Jordan (1987-88), Jason Richardson (2002-03) and Nate Robinson (2009-10) as the only players to win consecutive slam dunk contests.

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) dunks the ball over Magic mascot "Stuff" during the All-Star Weekend slam-dunk competition.

In a close contest, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine clinched the win with a "between- the-legs" dunk that earned a perfect score from the judges. PHOTOS: REUTERS

The streak of perfect scores from the two players ended when Gordon, who enlisted a mascot rotating on a hoverboard for one of his earlier dunks, ran along the baseline en route to a jackknife dunk that earned him 47 points.

LaVine sealed it on the next attempt when he soared into the air from a step inside the free-throw line and made a between-the-legs dunk that earned a perfect score from a panel of judges that included basketball greats Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal.

Johnson tweeted: "If you missed LaVine vs. Gordon in the dunk contest, you missed one of the best in NBA history!

"In my 30+ years in the NBA, I believe it was the 3rd best dunk contest I've ever seen."

Earlier, Klay Thompson knocked off defending champion and Golden State Warriors team-mate Stephen Curry and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns to win the three-point contest. Thompson capped the final round by draining his last eight shots.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'LaVine soars to win slam dunk contest again'. Print Edition | Subscribe