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All-Star 2020: Derrick Jones Jr outduels Aaron Gordon to win dramatic Slam Dunk contest

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Associated Press

Sunday 16 February 2020 13:53, UK

Derrick Jones Jr elevates to the rim during the 2020 Dunk Contest 3:50
Derrick Jones Jr edged out Aaron Gordon to claim a controversial victory in the 2020 Slam Dunk contest at All-Star Saturday Night

Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr won a Slam Dunk Contest that required overtime with two extra rounds, edging the Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon in a six-dunk display.

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Gordon lost another epic Dunk Contest. And it was by a couple of inches - namely, the top of Tacko Fall's head.

Jones Jr, whose spectacular in-game dunks have earned the nickname Airplane Mode, finally got his long-awaited Dunk Contest title as an exclamation point to a scintillating All-Star Saturday Night, both for him and the Miami Heat.

Derrick Jones Jr celebrates after winning the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest
Image: Jones Jr celebrates after winning the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest

Jones and Gordon needed a dunk-off to decide a winner, Jones prevailing 48-47 in the one that determined who left with the trophy.

Earlier in the evening, Miami's Bam Adebayo won the Skills title and Sacramento's Buddy Hield took the 3-Point crown. Their wins were absolute, without ambiguity: the ball going in told the tale.

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But the Dunk Contest - much like the one between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins in Chicago 32 years earlier - came down to the judges' call.

Derrick Jones Jr roars in celebration after throwing down a dunk against Golden State 1:29
Derrick Jones Jr pulls a stunning 'reverse tornado' at the 2020 Slam Dunk contest at All-Star Saturday Night

Gordon brushed against the back of Fall's head, and that was enough to sway three of the judges - they gave nines, and that combined with two 10s added to the final 47. Jones said he would have settled for another dunk-off round.

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"He clipped Tacko's head when he did that dunk, so I knew they couldn't have gave him a 50 for that one," said Jones, who was in the Dunk Contest in 2017 as well. "I would have respected it if they gave him another 48, so we can go again."

 Aaron Gordon's third dunk - #00 of the Orlando Magic participates in the 2020 NBA All-Star - AT&T Slam Dunk on February 15, 2020 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. 1:59
Aaron Gordon dunks over the top of Chance the Rapper at the 2020 Slam Dunk contest at All-Star Saturday Night

It was not clear if they would have dunked again had it still been tied after Gordon's final attempt. The NBA was not going to permit co-champions, and there would have been a point - which they were possibly at - when judges would have had to vote and decide a winner.

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Controversy reigned regardless. Much like in 2016, when Gordon lost to Zach LaVine in one of the best Dunk Contests ever, the Magic forward - who set a contest record with five perfect scores - left frustrated.

"I feel like I should have two trophies," Gordon said.

Aaron Gordon #00 of the Orlando Magic participates in the 2020 NBA All-Star - AT&T Slam Dunk on February 15, 2020 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. 1:26
Aaron Gordon took flight to hammer home a 360 slam after catching the ball in mid-air off the backboard

When Gordon asked the 7ft 5in Fall to come out for his last dunk it was the ultimate risk-reward moment.

Gordon, who wanted to jump over the slightly shorter-than-Fall Shaquille O'Neal but got that invitation declined, needed a 49 to win. But he did not totally clear his very tall prop - and just like that Jones was the champion.

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"Tallest dude in the gym." Gordon said. "Jumping over somebody 7ft 5in and dunking it, it's no easy feat. What'd I get, a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?"

Jones lauded Gordon for trying a dunk over Fall.

: Derrick Jones Jr. #5 of the Miami Heat participates in the 2020 NBA All-Star - AT&T Slam Dunk on February 15, 2020 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. 0:40
Derrick Jones Jr jumps over team-mate Bam Adebayo for his opening dunk of the 2020 NBA All-Star slam dunk contest on Saturday night

"If I would have thought of it earlier, I'd have did it," Jones said.

The first round was full of props: Jones - celebrating his 23rd birthday - had a birthday cake and Adebayo on the court for his first dunk, Gordon went over Chicago native Chance The Rapper for a slam, Milwaukee's Pat Connaughton leaped over Bucks team-mate Giannis Antetokounmpo and kissed the ball off the glass before his second dunk, and the Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard brought back his Superman dunk from 11 years ago as well.

Pat Connaughton throws down his 'White Men Can't Jump' tribute slam
Image: Pat Connaughton throws down his 'White Men Can't Jump' tribute slam

Jones Jr and Gordon emerged as the two finalists. Gordon was perfect on every dunk until his last one. But in the end, Jones proved prophetic.

"I said I would do it," Jones said.

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