As has become a common theme in Minnesota sports recently, Timberwolves fans didn't have much to cheer about last season. The hapless Wolves endured one of the least productive regular seasons in the team's 26-year history, winning just 16 games while missing the playoffs for the 11th straight year.
One bright spot for the Wolves was Zach LaVine. The rookie out of UCLA showed flashes of promise on the court during the regular season while filling in at starting point guard for the oft-injured Ricky Rubio. He saved his best tricks for All-Star Weekend however, winning the 2015 NBA Dunk contest with a performance lauded by many as one of the most impressive in recent memory.
Apparently, one dunk title wasn't enough for Mr. LaVine.
On Saturday night in Toronto, the 20 year-old high-flying guard defended his crown, becoming only the fourth player in NBA history to capture back-to-back dunk contest championships. (Nate Robinson, Jason Richardson, and some guy from the 80's named "Michael Jordan" are the others.)
LaVine faced off against Orlando's Aaron Gordon, Detroit's Andre Drummond and Will Barton from the Denver Nuggets in a 4-man showdown that many hoops pundits are saying was one of the best and most entertaining dunk contests in league history.
LaVine and Gordon advanced into the finals rather easily, beating out the other two entrants in the first round. It was during the final round — AKA The Dunk Off™ — that the fireworks started in earnest, with both young men showing off an array of acrobatic ways to contort one's body while jumping and throwing a ball through a 10-foot hoop.
While LaVine's between-the-legs-take-off-(almost)-from-the-free-throw-line dunk ended up being the defacto contest winner, it was perhaps Gordon's take-the-hand-off-from-the-giant-green-and-pink-mascot-go-underneath-both-legs-while-ostensibly-defying-known-gravitational-laws dunk that had the basketball world buzzing the loudest.
In the end, Lavine marginally outscored Gordon 200-197 according to a controversial scoring system that requires Shaquille O'Neal to make relatively quick decisions using numbers as large as ten, but the NBA and it's fans were all winners as the event was considered a big success.
Here is a quick video of all of Gordon and LaVine's efforts so you can judge for yourself who won the contest and come up with your own ridiculous names for the dunks:
Congrats to Zach LaVine. And good luck to the Timberwolves during the remainder of their 2015-2016 season. With Rookie of the Year candidate Karl-Anthony Towns joining forces with LaVine and last year's ROY Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves have some talented young pieces with which to potentially build a nucleus. They've already surpassed last year's win total — winning their 17th game just before the All-Star break — and things slowly seem to be going in a positive direction at Target Center.
Media courtesy of: NBA YouTube Channel