Pacers’ Stanley delivers spectacular slam but falls short in Slam Dunk Contest

There was some early controversy in the Slam Dunk Contest when Cassius Stanley's first dunk, a left-hander after he moved the ball between his legs in the air, scored only 44 points.
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ATLANTA — Portland’s Anfernee Simons sealed his final, winning dunk with a kiss. Well, almost.

Simons showed off his leaping ability and creativity to beat New York’s Obi Toppin and Indiana’s Cassius Stanley in the two-round dunk contest, which started off with a spectacular Stanley slam that received a surprisingly low score.

The 6-foot-3 Simons soared, almost kissing the rim, on a powerful right-handed jam to beat Toppin in the final. Simons puckered his lips as if kissing the rim, even though he was a few inches away.

“I tried to get close enough so obviously I wouldn’t hit my head on the rim too hard,” Simons said, before acknowledging he has never “actually kissed the rim” in practice.

“I had to commit to it,” Simons said.

Simons also paid tribute to a former star by wearing Tracy McGrady’s jersey on a jam that earned a score of 49 to earn his spot in the final.

“He was my hero growing up, so I wanted to honor him as well,” Simons said.

The contest was judged by five former dunk champions: Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins (1985, 1990), Spud Webb (1986), Dee Brown (1991), Jason Richardson (2002, 2003) and Josh Smith (2005).

There was some early controversy when Stanley’s first dunk, a left-hander after he moved the ball between his legs in the air, scored only 44 points. Toppin then scored a 48 on a two-handed reverse.

On Simons’ first dunk, he positioned the ball even with the top of the square above the rim. He then showed off his leaping ability by grabbing the ball for the jam which earned 46 points.

“I just wanted to show I could jump up pretty high and be creative, so it was fun,” he said.

Toppin also showed creativity, jumping over his father, Obadiah Toppin, and teammate Julius Randle on a dunk which earned 46 points.

In the final, Toppin took off from near the free-throw line, inspiring comparisons to Wilkins’ winning form while with the Atlanta Hawks.