Don’t expect to see Aaron Gordon in next year’s slam-dunk contest.
Following his disappointing elimination from the 2017 NBA All-Star slam-dunk contest in New Orleans on Saturday night, the Orlando Magic forward disclosed he will sit out the event in 2018.
“This event takes a lot out of you when you approach it as seriously as I do.”
Gordon told Ben Golliver of sports illustrated.
With the theme from “Star Wars” blaring over Smoothie King Center’s loudspeakers, Stuff the Magic mascot pretended to pilot the drone via remote control. The drone dropped the basketball, and Gordon collected the ball after it hit the floor, switched the ball from his left hand to his right hand between his legs and tried to dunk.
On his final try, Gordon successfully dunked the ball and received a score of 38 points from judges Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, David Robinson, Chris Webber and Dominique Wilkins.
Gordon participated in Saturday’s event with an Injured right foot, which may have hurt his performance. Regardless, Gordon — who was billed as the event’s headliner — struggled with his opening attempt. After three misses, he completed the fourth, looking visibly frustrated that he couldn’t land the alley-oop right away.
Because Gordon was considered the main event of this year’s contest, his shortcomings played a large part in the event being mostly forgettable. Indiana Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III won the competition with some very strong dunks, but hardly anything that will stick out on highlight reels.
After finishing second last year, Gordon had trouble completing any of the dunks he tried this time around. In fact, he didn’t even complete his second dunk attempt, clanking all of them off the rim. He was spectacular in 2016, but he struggled mightily this year. It’s disappointing to hear he won’t be back in 2018 considering how exciting of a player he is, but it’s hard to blame him.
But other dunkers will emerge (perhaps Jones Jr., for instance, who really can fly). Frankly, all future contestants need is to land some dunks on the first attempt. If there was a big takeaway from Saturday’s contest, it’s that people really don’t like misses.
Gordon’s absence in 2018 will open the door for the NBA to hopefully find another excellent dunker who is waiting for the proper stage to unleash his talent.