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'I felt that': NBA amazed by dunk contest stunner

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Portland's Anfernee Simons won the NBA Dunk Contest with this effort, in which he nearly kisses the rim on his way up. Picture: TNT/Twitter
Portland's Anfernee Simons won the NBA Dunk Contest with this effort, in which he nearly kisses the rim on his way up. Picture: TNT/Twitter

Anfernee Simons showed off his hops, and nearly snuck a kiss with the rim in Atlanta, to win the Slam Dunk Contest on Monday.

The 21-year-old became the first Portland Trail Blazer to win the dunk contest.

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Simons, after knocking out Indiana Pacers rookie Cassius Stanley early, edged out Knicks star Obi Toppin to claim the title with a wild slam in the final round.

Stanley got the contest rolling with some heat right off the bat. Though he came home with the lowest initial score in the first round — something many at home and even the broadcast crew didn’t understand — Stanley did not hold back.

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Simons had the most creative dunk of the night early. The Trail Blazers guard, for his opening dunk, rose up to the top of the square on the backboard and grabbed the ball — which was sitting on a special mini-hoop they had stuck onto the glass — and threw it down.

For someone who stands 193cm, his vertical is beyond impressive.

He then broke out a Tracy MacGrady jersey and almost perfectly executed his dunk from the memorable contest in 2000, which was won by MacGrady's Toronto raptors teammate Vince Carter.

Toppin secured his spot in the finals with a huge wind-up slam while jumping over his dad and Knicks teammate, All-Star Julius Randle, in the paint.

So with Toppin and Simons in the finals, the two got one final unscored dunk for the judges to choose the winner.

Toppin went first, and landed a simple between the legs slam. Simons followed suit and tried to get up and actually kiss the rim — though he just barely came up short.

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Apparently, though, he got close enough for the judges’ liking.

Simons, with a score of 3-2, won the Slam Dunk Contest — the first Trail Blazers player to ever do so.

Though there was plenty to be impressed by, Magic Johnson was left wanting more.

Johnson, whose immaculate takes on social media have run NBA Twitter since he left the Lakers' front office, said he's seen better.

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Team LeBron wins NBA All-Star game

Even in the strangest NBA All-Star game of them all, LeBron James was still the perfect captain.

Team LeBron showed off its high-flying and long-range skills during a dominating run to close out the first half, setting up a 170-150 romp over Team Durant in the league's 70th mid-season showcase.

Determined to pull off an exhibition that is huge for TV revenue and the league's worldwide brand, the NBA staged the game in a mostly empty arena in downtown Atlanta, a made-for-TV extravaganza symbolic of the coronavirus era.

Even with intense safety protocols in place, two players did not even make it to tipoff: Philadelphia stars Joel Embiid and Australia's Ben Simmons were ruled out because they got haircuts from a barber who tested positive for COVID-19.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named All-Star MVP, finishing with 35 points on record 16 of 16 shooting. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was named All-Star MVP, finishing with 35 points on record 16 of 16 shooting. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

But once the game began, it fell right in line with the three previous All-Star outings with the captain format. The top vote-getters in each conference pick the teams, a duty that James has earned all four years.

He's now 4-0, having defeated Stephen Curry's squad in 2018 and teams selected by Milwaukee's two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo the last two years.

This time, James drafted his two former adversaries to assemble a dominant squad that blew away Kevin Durant's team.

Antetokounmpo was the game MVP after shooting 16 of 16 for 35 points. Curry chipped in with 28 points, while Damian Lillard had 32.

Bradley Beal led Team Durant with 26 points.

With AAP

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