LOS ANGELES — The participants in the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest used wardrobe changes and the art of imitation throughout their performances. While Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell was no exception, his talent proved that he didn’t need all the flash and flair.
Mitchell won the glamour event during All-Star Saturday night by wearing a Vince Carter throwback jersey and executing a reverse, spinning 360-degree windmill dunk. After the impressive feat, Mitchell found the nearest camera and imitated Carter’s “It’s over” bluster and gesture from the 2000 contest the former Raptors great won going away. Mitchell earned a 48 score for the dunk, defeating Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. in the finals.
“I wanted it so badly,” Mitchell said. “This is one of my favorite events of All-Star Weekend.
“I haven’t made that dunk in half a year. I tried it two night ago, didn’t make it. Tried it this morning, didn’t make it. So to make it tonight, I was excited.”
Mitchell’s imagination came in handy, which was evident in his performance. When asked how he prepared for the event, he said he’s been looking forward to a night like this since childhood.
“Believe it or not, I’ve been preparing for this since I was a kid,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t know I was gonna be able to jump this high, so I added some new tricks.”
In the first round, Nance, the son of the inaugural slam dunk champion, showed a touch of showmanship with a nod to his past. Nance incorporated the entertainers Quick Change, who, as their name suggests, speedily change clothes to the delight of fans across NBA arenas.
Nance, shrouded inside a four-side curtain, emerged a few moments later in his father’s Phoenix Suns throwbacks — short shorts and high socks included. Then, Nance pulled off a replica of his father’s winning dunk from 1984’s event, but needed two attempts, which might have resulted in his 44 score.
However, Nance came up with a complete original idea in the finals — a double-alley oop dunk. Nance threw the ball off the glass, caught it and with a quick motion, tossed it once more but slamming the ball home. The dunk produced a perfect score of 50, but was not enough to take down Mitchell.
Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. earned the first 50 of the night with a between-the-legs, 360-degree dunk for but did not advance out of the first round. Also, former DeMatha standout Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers couldn’t impress the celebrity judges, failing in the opening round largely because he missed all three attempts for his first dunk.
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