Derrick Jones Jr. may very well be the only one who walked away from Saturday night's NBA All-Star AT&T Slam Dunk Contest satisfied.
The 23-year-old Miami Heat forward controversially edged Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon in a two-round dunk-off. That technically should not have been allowed to happen under the contest's rules, which state that the judges should have voted after each contestant finished one round of the dunk-off.
"With Derrick and Aaron displaying such extraordinary creativity and execution, giving the fans another round of dunks from these two incredible athletes was the appropriate way to break the tie," NBA senior vice president of league operations Tim Frank explained to USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt.
Jones topped Gordon 48-47 with his second dunk of the dunk-off.
The NBA's official rules for the dunk contest call for the judges to choose a winner after a one-round dunk-off: "If still tied after the one-dunk 'dunk-off' in either round, the advancing dunker(s) or winner would be determined by 'Judges' Choice.'"
After those rules were abandoned, Jones' dunk from the free-throw line was favored by the five-judge panel over Gordon's leaping dunk over 7'5" Tacko Fall in the second round of the dunk-off:
However, Gordon had been the widespread favorite throughout the night with 50s for each of his dunks except for the final attempt at Chicago's United Center:
Emmy, Grammy and Oscar Award winner Common disclosed to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne that the contest was intended to end in a tie, even though that would not have technically been allowed under the event's official rules, either. He also expressed that he would rather have gone to the "Judges' Choice" than the second round of the dunk-off:
Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne
If the dunk contest was tied after that last dunk, the judges could have gone to a judges choice. Essentially, each would hold up a card with who was the best dunker all night. That’s what @common says he thought was the best outcome because “They were both so good.”
Dwyane Wade, a recently retired Miami Heat legend, was criticized for judging through a biased lens that favored Jones, but the three-time NBA champion shrugged off those claims:
Gordon has a strong argument that he was robbed twice in the dunk contest. The 24-year-old also controversially lost to now-Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine in 2016. As a result, don't expect Orlando's 2014 fourth overall pick to be lighting up any dunk contests in the future:
Along with Gordon, Jones also defeated Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard and Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton to claim the trophy.