Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA All-Star Game

Larry Nance Jr. was robbed in the Slam Dunk Contest

Cleveland Cavaliers star Larry Nance Jr. was robbed in the Slam Dunk Contest after pulling off a tremendous dunk in the championship round.

The Slam Dunk Contest has come and gone, Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell is your champion, but it should be Larry Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

First, let’s concede that Mitchell was the best dunker in the first round that narrowed the field to himself and Nance. He opened things up with a creative alley-oop dunk involving two backboards to score a 48. Then Mitchell ended the first round with a perfect score by catching an alley-oop off the edge of the backboard and dunking over the Kevin Hart family.

Michell ended the first round with a 98, Nance in second with a 93.

Then the score is supposed to reset to zero right?

Nance opened the championship round by catching an alley-oop from his father and scored a 46. Mitchell then scored a perfect 50 catching an alley-oop off the glass, albeit low, for a windmill slam. This alley-oop was in no way more impressive than either of Mitchell’s two dunks from the first round, yet it scored higher than one of them.

Then came Nance’s huge moment. In an almost identical alley-oop set up as Mitchell’s previous dunk, Nance threw it off the backboard, caught it, tapped it off the backboard a second time, then dunked it.

An extremely more impressive dunk than Mitchell’s, yet the score was the same. After Mitchell’s dunk, before Nance’s, the broadcast team was questioning the 50 score.

Even though the judges had yet to see what Nance had in store, there was no way they can justify scoring it higher than either of Mitchell’s first-round dunks.

But we’ll let it slide for now, even though it was an egregious error, and see how it played out. At this point, Nance had a score of 96, and Mitchell had a score of 50. If Mitchell scored nines on all the judges’ scorecards, he’d get a 45 for a total of 95 and Nance would win.

That didn’t happen. Mitchell’s second dunk was an homage to legendary dunker Vince Carter. He took off his jersey to unveil a retro Vince Carter Toronto Raptors jersey. He replicated his famous 360-tomahawk dunk with his double point celebration and the “it’s over” gesture. He replicated to near perfection.

But we saw this dunk before, 19 years ago in fact, there is no way it could score higher than a 45 to give Mitchell the win, yet it did.

Mitchell got a 48 and got the win with 98 total points.

That was highway robbery.

One element of the contest is trying to save your best for last. It’s a risky approach because it doesn’t guarantee you’ll make it there. Dallas Mavericks star Dennis Smith Jr. was arguably too conservative and failed to make the championship round despite a perfect 50 in the first round.

But the reverse of that is Mitchell’s best dunks were in the first round, Nance outshined him in the championship round.

Think about it, Nance had to catch the ball three times on two dunks and somehow managed to lose. Nance and Mitchell had basically identical head-to-head dunks and Nance destroyed Mitchell’s, yet they were scored the same.

Ultimately, the nostalgia of Mitchell’s tribute to Carter was given favor over the nostalgia of a father-son NBA duo teaming up for an alley-oop. Nance Sr. won the first NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1984, we remember that right?

Nance Jr. did the tribute jersey reveal changing into his dad’s old school uniform shorts and high socks included AND with more flair by involving the quick change team. He finished it up with his dad’s signature cradle dunk and you know what he got for a score. 44. There is no way anyone can tell me Mitchell’s dunk deserved more than Nance’s 44.

Nance should be your Slam Dunk Contest Champion. Don’t @ me.

Oh, and by the way, did you know the lowest score a dunker in the contest can get from a judge is a six…. on a scale of one to 10. Seriously.

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