Zach Lavine will not defend his dunk contest title in 2017.
The Associated Press reports Lavine is passing on the chance to participate in All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, admitting he’s got nothing left to prove and wants to focus on the Timberwolves’ playoff chances.
With Lavine, the reigning two-time dunk contest champion opting out, it means we won’t be getting a much-craved rematch with Aaron Gordon. At the All-Star Weekend in Toronto last year, the two put on a dunk clinic, making seemingly impossible dunk after dunk. It was one of the best competitions in the event’s history.
However, you can’t blame Lavine for wanting to focus on the T-Wolves’ upcoming playoff hunt. The 21-year-old has become much more than a dunker this season, averaging nearly 20 points, three rebounds, and three assists for Minnesota. He’s also one of the league’s best three-point shooters, making just over 40 percent of his attempts from long distances on just under seven long shots per game.
Without Lavine, Gordon’s the heavy favorite. The Orlando Magic forward just missed out on winning the title and probably wants to finish what he started. So far, the only other competitor known is Pacers guard Glen Robinson III, who’s been known to throw some impressive dunks in the past.
Will the event still be worth the price of admission? I’d say yes, only because Gordon is a special dunker who might pull off a move never seen before. But, it’s a shame we’re not privy to a head-to-head rematch between Lavine and Gordon. That was lit. Hopefully, the dunk contest continues its rejuvenation and doesn’t become stale like it was before Lavine rekindled the magic of the event over the last two years.