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  • Benjamin Gerstel

The 2022 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Was A Snooze Fest

For the second straight night, the NBA continued its All-Star weekend festivities. It’s a celebration of talent displayed in Cleveland, that allows the NBA to shine a light on their players. Tonight, those players will be competing in events such as the Skills Challenge, and the beloved three-point and dunk contests. Here’s a recap of what last night’s event had in store:

The Skills Challenge Shooting The skills challenge opened up with some experimental rule changes. Instead of the usual individual contest, the participants were separated into teams: The Antetokounmpo brothers, a Cleveland team composed of Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley, and another young squad which included Josh Giddey, Cade Cunningham, and Scottie Barnes entered this contest. . The event was broken up into three rounds, including shooting, passing and relay. The shooting section of the skills challenge opened up with an inconsistent performance from Cade Cunningam and a 16-point effort from Josh Giddey. The Australian shined all night, holding the fastest time in the relay, second in the passing challenge, and third in the shooting challenge. However, Scottie Barnes missed his first six-straight shots, continuing his struggles this weekend. Giannis displayed his newfound range from three-point land and Alex drained a five-point shot to open his run. A valiant effort by the Antetokounmpo brothers was not enough however, as Mobley and Garland went ballistic. Mobley wowed the crowd with a dominant 18 and Garland followed up with a round-high 24. Passing The rookies looked really fluid in the passing challenge, with 88 points. Most of the rookies were point guards, which certainly gave them an advantage in this event. Milwaukee had a bit more trouble figuring out their choreography, and took a while to adjust. The brothers were running into each other, ruining any sense of flow. However, after an ugly start, Milwuakee ended up tying the Rookies 88. Cleveland’s motion was also poetic, but they didn’t have enough time to come back. By the end, they took their foot off the gas pedal, as evident by their baseball-style passes when the clock ran out. It was a complicated event, where each pass length corresponded to a certain amount of points. For example, the 12 foot short pass was 4 points, the 22 ft chest pass was 6 points, and the 32 ft outlet pass was 2 points. The target size got bigger as the distance increased, creating a unique and bold variation of this event. Ultimately, while Cleveland’s movement was the most in-sync, the Buck’s squad won after a tiebreaker with the rookies. Relay/Half Court Shot In the relay, Josh Giddey posted the fastest time, but a Cade Cunningham penalty tampered with the Rookie’s success. Scottie Barnes’s unnecessary crossover also didn’t help. The Greek Freaks struggled early on, after Giannis couldn’t hit his floaters. Their anchor run also got them a penalty, and the Cavs didn’t do enough. Since the round was worth double the points, the Rookies advanced. As a result, Milwaukee and Cleveland selected two shooters for the knockout round and Darius Garland hit his first shot. His shot sent the hometown team into the finals of the skills challenge, which was a half-court shot contest. Finally, in the last event of the skills challenge, the Cleveland Cavaliers squad asserted their dominance in the final round. Evan Mobley hit his half court shot in 5.5 seconds, ending the contest quickly. It was just the team’s second try, and his first of the competition. Mobley capped off an incredibly impressive night by hitting the dagger against the rookies. The Three Point Contest After an interim dating show featuring Stephen Curry, Ayesha Curry, 2 Chainz, and Kesha Ward, the three point contest began. Desmond Bane, C.J. McCollum, Zach Lavine, Luke Kennard, Patty Mills, Trae Young, Karl Anthony-Towns all competed in this event. The three point contest was the only one event tonight without any rule changes. Desmond Bane and C.J. McCollum kicked off the first round with respectable, yet disappointing performances. They failed to hit the 20 point mark and had 18 and 19 respectively. Kennard blew them out of the water with 28 points, after going 4-5 on the money rack. KAT showed out for the big men, draining 22 points with his iconic standing three-pointer. He’s one of the premiere big-men in the game and displayed his brilliance from beyond the arc in the first round. KAT, Kennard, and Trae Young all moved onto the finals. In the presence of Miller, Curry, and Allen, the three greatest shooters of all time, the pressure was on. Even though KAT went first, the Kentucky product was historic. He shot 90% on his first two racks, and tallied 29 points. Devin Booker held the previous record of 28 in the final round, making it a historic night for the big men. Even though Trae caught fire, he was eliminated by the time he was on his final rack and Luke Kennard had an impressive 26. Karl Anthony Towns is the last big to win the competition since fellow Timberwolve, Kevin Love, in 2012.

Dunk Contest To begin the first round, Cole Anthony and Toscano-Anderson both paid tribute to their backgrounds. Anthony donned a Greg Anthony jersey, shouting out his father who held the ball for him. He pulled off a left handed windmill giving him 40 points. Anderson tributed Mexico, his nationality, with a flag on both his shoe and on his custom Warriors jersey After getting Dr. J to sign his ABA basketball, Toscano dunked over his teammate Andrew Wiggins, with a 44-point effort on his first attempt. The lowest score of the round was attributed to Jalen Green, who showed off his NFT chain. His NFT was a video of his own personal highlights. It was certainly a modern display of swagger, but his dunk over Josh Christopher received a round-low 38. Obi Toppin swept the first two rounds, with a behind the back over someone and a through the legs move off the backboard. The second round was relatively quiet, since Cole Anthony missed all of his attempts. It registered him the lowest possible score, while Anderson didn’t get the crowd going. He may not have flushed it the way he desired in the second round, but Obi’s dunk catapulted him into the finals. In the finals, Anderson tried to put his arm in the rim, like Vince Carter did in 2000. He was awarded a 39, which isn’t a horrible score, but it was clear that he wasn’t happy with his performance. He didn’t get enough lift off of his bounce, and his arm wasn’t able to get through. After missing his first two dunks, Obi hit a through the legs dunk off the backboard. It’s wild to think that would be a player’s “safe dunk” but it was entertaining enough to get a 10 from Dominique Wilkins, and the lead in the final round. In the second round of the finals, Toscano couldn’t get any air off the ground. He was clearly exhausted and essentially handed the contest to Tobbin on a silver platter. Obi only needed a layup to win and cashed in on a dunk off the backboard. The New York native’s victory concluded an epic night hosted by the NBA in Cleveland.

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