Portland's Simons wins NBA Slam Dunk contest

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 08 2021 12:16 PM

Portland's Simons wins NBA Slam Dunk contest 1
Portland Trailblazers guard Anfernee Simons (1) competes during the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest at State Farm Arena. Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

LOS ANGELES -- Portland guard Anfernee Simons won the NBA Slam-Dunk contest Sunday, the first Trail Blazer to win the high-flying competition that is part of the annual All-Star festivities.

On his lone final-round dunk, Simons soared to snag a high-bounced ball and jam in a one-handed dunk, leaning his face toward the basket as if to kiss it on the way down.

He got the nod from three of five judges over final round foe Obi Toppin of the New York Knicks, who leapt from just inside the foul line and passed the ball between his legs for a right-handed jam.

"Pretty nervous coming in," admitted Simons, who has just two dunks this season and 15 in his career. "But a lot of people didn't know that I can jump pretty high. So I kind of calmed down and just showed my talents."

The contest, usually the highlight on Saturday night of All-Star weekend, was compressed this year and held during halftime of the All-Star Game itself as festivities were limited to one day amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Toppin led the way in the two-dunk first round, opening with a dunk in which he bounced the ball between his legs on the way to a reverse slam.

On his second effort Toppin got some help from his father, Obadiah Toppin Sr., and teammate Julius Randle, leapfrogging over them with a little push off of Randle's back.

Simons opened the first round by having the ball placed in a small plastic hoop attached to the backboard more than a foot above the rim.

He leapt to grab it with both hands and dunked it in a smooth move.

For his second dunk, Simons donned a Tracy McGrady jersey and delivering a spinning dunk McGrady made in the 2000 contest.

Indiana's Cassius Stanley was eliminated in the first round, although he opened the event in scintillating style with a between-the-legs left-handed slam.

© Agence France-Presse

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