The NBA Slam Dunk Contest has seen 360 spins, windmills, huge jumps in Timberland boots and unsuccessful kiss attempts. The 2024 version, however, will feature something that hasn’t been seen in seven years: an actual All-Star.
Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was announced on Thursday to be in the field for this season’s Slam Dunk Contest, becoming the first All-Star to participate in the All-Star Weekend event since DeAndre Jordan in 2017.
McClung won last year’s event in emphatic fashion, breathing life into an event that has seen smaller and smaller names participate in recent years. McClung’s participation reflected that decline, as he was the event’s first G Leaguer and had signed a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers only four days before the event.
Given that the previous year’s winning dunk basically consisted of touching the ball to the backboard (with a muted reaction from the crowd), McClung was a revelation:
Now, the Slam Dunk Contest will feature two G Leaguers (McClung has played the entire season for the Osceola Magic), one of the NBA’s most promising rookies in Jaquez and a bona fide star in Brown.
This is Brown’s third All-Star selection in four years. He has helped lead the Celtics to an Eastern Conference-leading 38-12 record, working with longtime teammate Jayson Tatum as well as trade acquisitions Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday to form a new core in Boston.
Jaquez, the 18th overall pick out of UCLA in the 2023 NBA Draft, played himself into starting duties earlier this season thanks to a level of defense that allowed him to fit right in on the Heat, but has missed time recently with a groin strain.
Toppin, the younger brother of 2022 dunk champ Obi Toppin, went undrafted last year and has played four minutes in three games for the Knicks this season. He has averaged 20.4 points in 12 games for the Westchester Knicks.
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