Underdog McClung wins NBA Slam Dunk Contest
McClung crowned a fairytale few days by winning the NBA’s annual Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday.
Although he is not technically an NBA player, the 24-year-old guard, a former YouTube star while still in high school, has inked a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to play in the G-League, the NBA’s official minor league.
After signing to a two-way contract with the Sixers, which permits him to sign with an NBA team and still play for its G-League affiliate, he signed a sponsorship agreement with Puma.
There was already a stir when the first G-League player entered the Slam Dunk Contest. NBA All-Star and standout for the Phoenix Suns, Kevin Durant, described the move as “insane.”
But, NBA legends Shaq O’Neal and Magic Johnson claimed McClung had “rescued” a game that had grown stale in recent years when he produced three spectacular dunks to secure the victory.
“Ever since the beginning, I was the underdog,” said McClung, who has emulated Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant by becoming the Slam Dunk Contest champion.
“Proving others right instead of others wrong brings a little more satisfaction.”
McClung scored perfect 50s on three of his four dunks, which included a 540-degree turn that skateboarders are more likely to perform and a gymnastic-style jump off two of his pals followed by a reverse dunk.
It’s possible that the several YouTube videos that feature his talent and have received more than one million views were where fans first learned about him and saw his athleticism.
Prior to that, he broke numerous records while playing for Gate City High School, where he rose to the position of all-time greatest scorer in the Virginia High School League.
The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Golden State Warriors have all signed 6ft 2in McClung, who depends on his powerful spring for his remarkable dunk abilities.
But he has only played twice in the NBA, for the Bulls in December 2021 and then the Lakers in their season finale in April 2022.
Now the 2021-22 NBA G-League Rookie of the Year is hoping to find a regular place in the Sixers’ roster.
“It’s definitely been an eventful week planning all the dunks and also being called up,” McClung told US sports network Stadium.
“It’s funny how things really happen when you least expect it, but it’s all been a blessing.”