Last season, Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine gave us one of the most memorable dunk contests in NBA history. They were creative. Electrifying. Refreshing.
It’s only right they get together this coming February, in 2017, and match up with one another again.
But that might not happen, because Gordon isn’t sure if he’ll participate in the jam-fest next season. As he told Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy:
Kennedy: You were well-known by big NBA fans before last year’s dunk contest, but you became a household name overnight after going head to head with Zach LaVine. How much did your life change after that and did that give you some of that validation you wanted?
Gordon: “Yeah, that was incredible. As a little kid, I’ve always wanted to be part of a dunk contest, and of course I’ve always wanted to be in the NBA dunk contest. I got that opportunity and I did the best that I could. To me, that was all of the validation that I needed. I set out to achieve a goal and I executed it. After that, people were saying that I’m one of the best dunkers in the NBA. For me, that was amazing and all I needed. I wanted people to see what I saw and, you know, they did. They saw the creativity, the innovation, the joy and how much I love the game come out through my dunks.”
Kennedy: Are you going to do the dunk contest again this year?
Gordon: “I’m not 100 percent sure. I kind of gave a lot in this last one and to be more creative would be difficult. I think I could do it, but I’m not sure if I’m going to.”
This is the issue with the dunk contest. There comes a time when it doesn’t do anything for the players, when it has served its purpose for their respective careers.
After seeing what Gordon did against LaVine, we will now be expecting the world from the two of them. But it will be difficult for either of them to duplicate last year’s performance, so there exists the possibility that they find themselves in a no-win situation.
If they’re great, it doesn’t add to their reputation or legacy, because we assume dunk-contest artistry from them now. If their matchup is a flop, it stands to detract from their initial meeting in 2016.
This is why LeBron James has never participated in one of these. He has nothing to gain and everything to lose. Gordon, as he tries to carve a role and name for himself outside his ridiculous athleticism, may be starting to feel the same way. Reigning two-time dunk champ LaVine might even have similar sentiments, albeit he’s at least likely to return and defend his crown.
Whatever Gordon decides, it’s important we don’t lose sight of what happened last February. That contest was epic, and we will always have it in our memory bank.