Simons won the 2021 NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Sunday during halftime of the All-Star Game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. He defeated Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers and Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks.
Toppin reached the finals, but Simons won 3-2 with a high-flying dunk during which he nearly kissed the rim.
It was about more than just the dunks as all three players represented historically Black colleges and universities, with Simons representing Alabama State University, Stanley representing Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science and Toppin representing York College.
The biggest storyline coming into the competition was the lack of star power, but that hasn't stopped recent dunk contests from living up to the hype.
In fact, Sunday's contest had big shoes to fill after Derrick Jones Jr. and Aaron Gordon went into a dunk-off last year during an epic duel. Even though Jones and Gordon aren't exactly top-notch stars, they still put on a show as they traded 50s and forced extra time before Jones prevailed.
That is what Simons, Stanley and Toppin had to follow, and the Pacer started off with a bang with a lob and through-his-legs slam to send a message to his competition. It was just a 44 in the judges' eyes, though, which Toppin beat with a 48 by bouncing it through his legs and slamming it down.
Simons fell in between the two with a 46 by balancing the ball on a pop-a-shot-like rim high on the backboard and elevating to grab it and drop it in the actual hoop:
Simons and Toppin advanced to the finals in part because Stanley missed a couple of his attempts on his second dunk of the first round. But Simons also impressed, paying homage to Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady by wearing his old Toronto Raptors jersey and doing a dunk T-Mac did in a Dunk Contest.
Toppin also turned heads by jumping over his father and Julius Randle:
He started things off in the finals with a straight between-the-legs dunk, while Simons tried to top him by kissing the rim.
Simons didn't actually kiss it, pulling his head back at the last minute, although his hang time was impressive enough to notch the victory.