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Larry Nance Jr. didn’t win, but he certainly was a winner.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ big man took second in the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles, falling to Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell in the championship round, 98-96.
During the contest, Nance Jr. paid homage to his father, Larry Sr., a Cavaliers legend, who won the NBA’s 1984 Slam Dunk contest while a member of the Phoenix Suns.
“It’s very cool,” Nance Jr. said. “Obviously a big moment for my family, something I’ll cherish forever.”
Nance Jr. went throwback on his first dunk, having popular NBA halftime entertainers Quick Change hold up their curtains as Nance Jr. took off his Cavaliers’ warmups and donned a replica of the Suns No. 22 uniform his dad wore while winning the 1984 contest.
Larry Nance Jr. hits the “deep cradle windmill”. pic.twitter.com/GtGJ6dVx8J
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) February 18, 2018
His second dunk was a tribute to Vince Carter’s 2000 slam, stepping from out of bounds along the left baseline, spinning and putting it down.
Larry Nance Sr and Larry Nance Jr
Side by side pic.twitter.com/5O487kHV84
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 18, 2018
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) February 18, 2018
Nance Jr. then did one of his dad’s dunks from the 1984 contest, a right-handed, cradle, single-handed windmill while actually fading away from the basket. He then caught a lob from his dad for his third dunk.
He posted a perfect 50 score on his final attempt of the night, catching the ball off the glass with two hands — twice — while in midair and hammering it home.
“That’s one you’ve got to look at the replay and see that I tossed it off the glass, caught it, tossed it back off the glass, finished it all in the air,” Nance Jr. said. “That’s why I asked them to wait and hold their scores until they saw it again.”
— NBA (@NBA) February 18, 2018
Freaking amazing man!!!!! Unbelievable time for father and son! WOW https://t.co/b0PoumJ3eM
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 18, 2018
The judges for the contest were NBA legend Erving, whom Nance Jr.’s dad defeated in the championship round to win the contest in 1984, rapper D.J. Khaled, WNBA great Lisa Leslie, actor Mark Wahlberg and comedian Chris Rock.
Nance Jr. said it was Erving who cost him the title Saturday night.
“Yeah, Dr. J held back… he held back,” Nance Jr. said with a laugh. “He did not want to see another Larry Nance win.
“I blame it on him.”
Dennis Smith Jr. of Dallas and Victor Oladipo of Indiana were eliminated in the first round.
Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns won the JBL 3-point contest, besting Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Los Angeles Clippers in the final round.
Wayne Ellington of Miami, Bradley Beal of Washington, Eric Gordon of Houston, Kyle Lowry of Toronto and Paul George of Oklahoma City were eliminated after the first round.
Spencer Dinwiddie of the Brooklyn Nets won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, which consisted of an obstacle course of dribbling, passing, layups and 3-pointers. He defeated Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen in the championship round.
The All-Star Game will be played Sunday at 8 p.m. and be televised by TNT.