CHICAGO – Derrick Jones Jr. made Chester proud on his 23rd birthday.
The Miami Heat reserve swingman won the NBA slam dunk contest Saturday night at the United Center.
“Being able to get an achievement like this on a day like this is special for me,” said Jones, a Chester native and former Archbishop Carroll High School star. “This is a day that I am going to tell my kids" about.
On his final attempt, the fourth-year veteran converted a windmill dunk while leaping from just inside the foul line. It was a dunk that Jones perfected in high school. As a result, he expected a perfect score of 50. However, the judges awarded him a 48.
“When I got that 48, that was tough,” Jones said.
Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, the other finalist, responded by leaping over the Boston Celtics’ 7-foot-5 two-way center Tacko Fall. However, he received a score of 47. That enabled Jones to win.
But Jones’ 'victory didn’t come without controversy.
Many in the arena were shocked that the judges awarded Gordon a score of 47 on the event’s final dunk.
“Jumping over somebody 7-5 and dunking is no easy feat,” Gordon said. “What did I get, like a 47? Come on, man. What are we doing?”
This marks the second time Gordon was the runner-up in a controversial slam dunk contest. Back in 2016, he lost to Zach LaVine, then of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Magic standout was asked if his goal was to win a dunk contest before he retires.
“No. It’s a wrap, bro,” he said. “It’s a wrap. I feel like I should have two trophies. You know what I mean? It’s over for that. My next goal is going to be trying to win the three-point contest.”
Jones, meanwhile, looks to defend his title.
He was asked if there is somebody currently in the NBA with whom he wants to go head-to-head.
“Whoever wants to step out there. I don’t know,” Jones said. “I’m not naming no names. I don’t want to call nobody out. But whoever wants to step out in front of me, I’m there.