Flashback to February: Was the 2020 Dunk Contest judged biasedly?

Did Derrick Jones Jr. deserve to be holding that trophy alone?



Derrick Jones Jr. holds up the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest trophy after defeating Aaron Gordon in a controversial battle.

The end result of the 2020 NBA “Slam Dunk Contest” which took place on All-Star Weekend Saturday Night, February 15, this year in Chicago, was very much a hot topic for discussion.

Following the conclusion of the annual All-Star Saturday event, there was a significant controversy of the contest this February: Who truly deserved to be dubbed the winner?

Many people felt that the player who ultimately prevailed as the victor did not necessarily deserve the trophy over the other participant in the final round. This, of course, was what stirred up the heated controversy.

These disputes and disagreements were league-wide; from other players, to fans, coaches, and analysts— this dunk contest was one for the ages whose end result left hundreds of thousands of people stunned, disappointed, and in disbelief.


Today, let’s examine what happened..


After a quick Round 1, L.A.’s Dwight Howard and Milwaukee’s Pat Connaughton we’re eliminated from the contest, leaving the final two players remaining.

The two participants who now remained for the final round of the contest were set to square off against each other, both trying to showcase the most astonishing dunks they could think of.

These two competitors were Derrick Jones Jr. of the Miami Heat and Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic.

Round after round, Gordon and Jones took turns putting on a show with their incredibly amazing dunks. After each dunk was thrown down, the crowd went wild for both of the players and their unbelievably high-degree of difficulty dunks.

The social impacts of this event may have arguably been the most important. According to ESPN, more than 6.5 million TV viewers were tuned in watching the contest, which unquestionably brought a lot of attention and clout to Derrick Jones Jr. and Aaron Gordon. 

Jones Jr., especially, is not very much in the ‘spotlight’ often as an NBA player, as he is typically known as a quiet role player. However, by putting on a show with some electrifying slams in Chicago on the evening of All-Star Saturday, he got his name trending within the media and online very quickly.

The other impact the Dunk Contest had was the controversy that came along with its end result. Tons of people argued and debated with each other, expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and the like.

The political impact of this particular Dunk Contest was definitely an interesting thing which was present. Many even feel that it was this “political” aspect of this contest which resulted in Jones Jr.’s win and Aaron Gordon’s loss.

The politics, in this scenario, actually came into play over on the sideline of the court during the contest. This year, there were five “judges” of the Dunk Contest, just as usual in years past. The judges’ job is to give out a score from 1-10 on the impressiveness of each dunk performed in the competition. However, the “political issue” is clear when we take a closer look at who, exactly, one of these judges was.

One of the judges happened to be the recently-retired NBA legend, Dwyane Wade, who notoriously played for the Miami Heat for 15 seasons of his career. 

And, of course, Derrick Jones Jr. also plays for the Miami Heat.

In the contest, Dwyane Wade gave nearly every one of Jones Jr.’s dunks a perfect “10” score, while giving Gordon’s equally impressive dunks a “9”. This immediately led fans and analysts to speculate if Wade, allegedly supposed to be a “neutral” judge, may have had any type of bias in favor of Jones Jr., representing his personal NBA team.

People all over social media insisted that Wade’s judging was biased, clearly in favor of Miami’s Jones Jr. to win. 

However, there is truly no absolute way in which to prove that Wade scored the dunks “unfairly”, so the results stand as they were made.

Personally, from my perspective, I do think Dwyane Wade absolutely had bias in the way he judged. With Jones Jr. representing his own franchise, Wade definitely wanted the champion of this contest to be a Miami Heat player. 

Aaron Gordon and Derrick Jones Jr. were essentially equal in impressiveness, and if I had to give the edge to one of them, it would definitely have been Gordon taking home the trophy. As people argued and claimed, the end result should have been a tie.


Best summed up and simply put— Aaron Gordon got robbed of a dunk contest win and/or tie.