Photo by Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
The tone of this year's All-Star Game has been progressive from the start, after NBA commissioner Adam Silver declared last summer that there was no way the event would be held in a place like North Carolina so long as its discriminatory HB2 law remained. As is in life, dunks naturally follow, and our greatest tool for reflection—the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest—promises to be rich in political and cultural commentary, ramped up from more innocent years. Here are a handful of dunks we can expect (or hope) to see in New Orleans this weekend.
The Build a Fucking Wall
It's rumored that this dunk will see Aaron Gordon stepping fully into the method acting direction hinted at in last year's contest. Gordon will come onto court dressed as a 19th-century bricklayer, very dusty, accompanied by a beleaguered Stuff the Magic Dragon pushing a wheelbarrow filled with basketballs. Stan Van Gundy will be spotlit at the free-throw line, a children's choir beside him singing an angelic adaptation of the refrain "We just form a fucking wall" as the outspoken coach dons a blonde wig and red cap and begins to build a wall using Styrofoam bricks all around the key. Gordon will attempt to run at the wall from center court, unable to burst through as the chant from the children swells. Finally, flung Red Rover-style from the arms of the other contestants in a show of solidarity, Gordon smashes through the wall to dunk. While everyone agrees the symbolism of the dunk is powerful, most judges only give it a 7.
The Crocodile Mile
A 47-foot-long Crocodile Mile slide is set up down the length of the All-Star court, ending at a ramp shooting up from the center line. A cheerful Shaq in LSU swim trunks hoses down the slide and playfully sprays the celebrities sitting courtside. DeAndre Jordan emerges in a full-body surf suit and he runs, he slides, he hits the bump, he takes a dive—face-first into the backboard.
After Shaq accidentally floods the court with water (he gets distracted goading Charles Barkley into a bet over who can eat the most beignets), Glenn Robinson III emerges from one of the arena tunnels on an airboat. He makes a few laps around the court before it becomes clear that he's lost control. Chris Andersen emerges upon hearing the clarion call of a rickety airboat's whirring blade, as is his wont being a swamp creature, and flops aboard. The shock, and the sight of Anderson covered in so much sediment and duckweed, scares GR3 quite badly, and the boat plows into the front row where a pouting James Dolan sits. Bouncing off Dolan, however, gives the boat enough air that GR3 is able to dunk, though all he intended was to jump over the boat, "just like Blake." Dolan is reportedly seen being dragged into a sewer by a lizard creature with a blonde mohawk, and the contest is delayed 20 minutes so the All-Star Game All-Star Dancers can mop up the water in a routine set to "Rolling on the River," led by Doc Rivers.
The Big Easy Bloodbath
This dunk will open with every mascot at this year's All-Star Game assembled and frozen in place as a monologue by Ken Burns booms over the stadium sound system, placing the scene as the closing of the Battle of New Orleans. Pierre the Pelican as a bloodied Andrew Jackson leads Benny the Bull, Crunch the Wolf, and Moondog against G. Wiz, Champ, and Bango the Buck. Derrick Jones Jr. dribbles and weaves through the carnage to complete a handy behind-the-back 360. He seems elated but confused. It turns out the mascots were choreographed by Aaron Gordon and came out at the wrong time.
The MAGA World Peace
This dunk begins with Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, and Paul Ryan being loaded into a cramped capsule piloted by the King Cake Baby that is stuffed into a custom-made T-shirt cannon. They will be told there's king cake on board. The dunk itself is secondary, as the canon is so large it will have to be launched from the parking lot outside the Smoothie King Center. Once ejected, the capsule will rocket into space, a "STICK TO SPORTS" banner trailing behind, before it burns up and the cockpit controls melt since they are purely decorative and made from cake. It's still unclear who will perform the dunk, as Glen Robinson III—in his terror—can't be pried down from the rim, DeAndre was rushed to the hospital, Derrick Jones Jr. is reportedly "over it," and Aaron Gordon just became a member of SAG and is calling his union.
You can follow Katie on Twitter @wtevs.