Dunk Contest Judges: “If the Ball Went In, We Gave it a 10”

Last night was everyone’s favorite event, the NBA Dunk Contest. It’s a competition in which the best athletes in the world show off their superhuman powers, and us mortals watch in awe. How do they jump that high? Your guess is as good as mine. It seemed as though every single dunk was as impressive as the one before it, and the judges’ scores reflected that sentiment.

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, Larry Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks, and Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers were the four players to take part in the 2018 Dunk Contest. They showcased their skills in front of a judges panel consisting of DJ Khaled, Mark Wahlberg, Chris Rock, Lisa Leslie, and NBA legend Julius “Dr. J” Irving.

Right off the bat, it was clear that this was a generous group of judges. Early on, DJ Khaled played the role of Simon Cowell while his four counterparts were more like Paula Abdul. In the first round, high scores were being thrown out left and right. Victor Oladipo even earned a score of 31 on a dunk that never made it in the hoop. Reminiscent of the Immaculate Conception, Oladipo managed to score without his ball ever penetrating the hole.

After the first round, the judges began to loosen up. When a dunk was successfully made, the 10’s shot up without hesitation. When a dunk was missed, missed again, and then converted, the same thing. Routine alley-oop off the glass? 10. Jumping over a bent-over Kevin Hart, who is already lacking stature? 10. The judges were truly amazed by what they were seeing.

“They don’t want us to give 10’s,” said DJ Khaled after the contest, “so we made sure to give out 10’s. After each dunk, there was anotha one. And anotha one. And anotha one. All 10’s. Major key”. It seemed as though the grading criteria were non-existent.

One of the most shocking developments was to witness Dr. J, one of the most fabled dunkers in the history of the sport, dishing out such high scores along with his colleagues. “Back in my day, we were doing real dunks. None of this new-school bullshit. These youngins need to study up, because none of these dunks was better than a 5 back when I played.” But despite his contempt for the new era of dunkers, he still gave out 10’s because he had “given up hope”. “If the ball went in, we gave it a 10,” said Irving.

In the end, Utah Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell was named the winner of the 2018 Dunk Contest. He edged out Larry Nance by a slim margin in the final round, and his two dunks earned a combined score of 98 (out of a possible 100). Lisa Leslie, who was the first woman to ever dunk in a WNBA game, said “Mitchell was incredible. I know dunking. I’ve done it once before, so trust me when I say that this was some good dunking.”

I tried to find Mark Wahlberg for a quote, but he had left the Contest by the end of the second round. I guess he had more important things to do. We’ll give him a pass on this one, though. It’s not like he’s ever left an important sporting event prematurely.

Another year, another Dunk Contest in the books. The rate of perfect scores was astounding this year, but I guess that’s just due to there being one single criterion for a perfect dunk: the ball finding its way through the hoop. The lenient judges made that painfully obvious this year.


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