Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade ties why Derrick Jones Jr. won dunk contest?

Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat hugs Derrick Jones Jr. #5 as he walks off the court in the final regular season home game of his career (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat hugs Derrick Jones Jr. #5 as he walks off the court in the final regular season home game of his career (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. has won the 2020 Slam Dunk Contest, but his one-point victory didn’t come without controversy. Here’s the take.

With Bam Adebayo getting the upset win in the NBA Skills Challenge and all while the greatest player in his franchise’s history in Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade provided commentary, us fans at home were in for the biggest of treats at the end of the night. It would be Derrick Jones Jr. dunking with reckless abandon and no defender at the rim.

We all thought he would win, with his only real competition being 2016 Dunk Contest runner-up, Aaron Gordon. Just how the common saying goes though, “It’s not about the destination, It’s about the journey”.

Before I go on, I want to give a nod to 3-point Contest participant Duncan Robinson. He did start a bit cold but got it going in the first round for a respectable score of 19.

Had I known Buddy Hield, Davis Bertans, and Devin Booker would’ve scored 27, 26, and 26 respectively in their first round, I would’ve advised Robinson not to enter. We love him, but there’s no way he was competing with that.

Not in this style of contest. Maybe next year, Miami will double their chances to win the event.

Now, back to the Slam Dunk Contest. The judging panel consisted of a hall of Famer in Scottie Pippen, two future Hall of Famers in Dwyane Wade and Candace Parker, Hip Hop and Chicago legend Common, and for this night Chadwick Boseman who looked like he really could’ve been anywhere else than under the bright, headache-inducing lights if you know what I mean…

Fast-forwarding through the early rounds a bit, the final round of the dunk contest was upon us, and so far, Aaron Gordon had a perfect score. There had been nothing but scores of 50 for the 2016 runner up.

Derrick Jones Jr was doing his thing, including a never before seen pass from a friend off the backboard, between the legs jam to secure a 50 of his own. The place was electric.

It had been a little while since the fans were treated to an epic two-man battle like this, at least not since Zach Lavine and Aaron Gordon a few years ago. The world was ready.

There were so many perfect scores handed out between the two finalists that they had reached a round of sudden death. According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the judges were told they would pick a single winner no matter what.

There would be no co-champion. If these two dunks received the same score, the five judges would have to write their choice for the winner on a card and hold it up to determine the winner.

Derrick Jones Jr went first. A windmill from one step inside the free-throw line.

Everyone in the gym knew he was aiming to jump from the free-throw line. You could see it on his face immediately after and as he sat on the bench alone, he knew the door was open.

His score? A 48.

All Aaron Gordon had to do was come out with yet another score of 50 like he had done countless times that evening. He calls 7’5” Tacko Fall out of the crowd to use as a prop.

This was it. Heat Nation knew that if AG cleared the rookie center, all bets were off and he would be champion… but he didn’t.

By landing on the back of Fall’s neck, he left his fate up to the judges. One of which was Miami Heat legend, Dwyane Wade. He shouldn’t have done that.

Needless to say, Dwyane Wade did it. There was no mistake about it. Miami Heat President Pat Riley was there in attendance while the golden child Dwyane Wade was on the judging panel.

I don’t know how many of you have seen the British game show Golden Balls, but if you haven’t, here’s how the ending is played out. The two contestants have about a minute to have a conversation amongst themselves for all to hear.

Option one, they both put the split ball into the middle and walk away with half the pot. Option two, they both put the steal ball into the middle and each walks away with nothing. Option three, one player convinces the other to choose split while they intended to steal the whole thing all the while.

On Saturday night it was Wade against the four other judges. It’s also been reported that the judges had a conversation in which they decided to give Aaron Gordon a score of 48 (two 10s & three nines) to match Jones Jr’s previous score.

It was at this moment where the world saw that Wade truly had inherited his negotiation skills directly from Pat Riley himself. When it came time to put pen to paper sort to speak, Wade did the deed.

For the republic. For Miami Heat Nation. For a new golden child, Derrick Jones Jr., he marked a nine on his scorecard and stood up from the table while simultaneously taking his earpiece out.

He betrayed his fellow judges that night, but it had to be done. Watching Rob Perez’s video investigation, you could almost feel Palpatine… I mean, Riley imploring him to “DO IT!”

There’s a small thought that maybe Scottie Pippen was the one who “messed up,” but I don’t buy it for once second. He does stand up with his arms crossed, seemingly looking off to the sunset to see what his teammates did and to accept his fate, but I’m not about to sit here and accuse the Hall of Fame point forward of such a thing. He’s earned more respect than that.

Next. Miami Heat guys go 2/3 on All-Star Saturday night … not bad at all. dark

This will be one thing that eventually Wade will disclose with Jones Jr, but who knows if the information and intentions of that night will truly be out for public consumption at any point. I leave you with this: You may have all the skills and talent in the world, but in the end, it’ll always be more about who you know than what you know.