Dennis Smith Jr. calls his dunk contest loss "highway robbery"

Brian Babineau  NBA via Getty Images

The All-Star game has gone through an interesting transformation over the years and now the league is trying hard to make it more relevant with the draft instead of east vs. west. He was the replacement for Aaron Gordon due to injury.

"It was insane", Mitchell reflected.

Nance has his first and last dunk planned but part of the rules are to use a prop and that is one he is still working on.

NBA All-Star Weekend is underway in Los Angeles and one of the most exciting events takes place Saturday night: the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. His moment. His day.

Nance's father, three-time NBA All-Star Larry Nance, won the inaugural Slam Dunk contest in 1984. "I appreciate Kevin Hart coming out there and helping me out", Mitchel said. "This is one of my favorite events of All-Star weekend".

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In doing so, he outlasted Larry Nance, Jr., Victor Oladipo and Dennis Smith become the 2018 Dunk Contest champion.

"Believe it or not, I've been preparing for this since I was a kid, like what am I going to do?"

"I know its four dunks", Smith said. It's a dunk that has nuance; the opening act should be an attention-grabber. Yes, that particular double pump is a tough one to do, but it's not the dunk best used to open the night. In an nearly identical alley-oop set up as Mitchell's previous dunk, Nance threw it off the backboard, caught it, tapped it off the backboard a second time, then dunked it. You probably did not, but that did not stop him from bringing home the win. In many of Nance's dunks, his powerful dunking style showed through and, more times than not, seemed to help raise his score.

But Mitchell closed the contest with an ode to Verizon Slam Dunk legend and the oldest player in the NBA, Vince Carter (of the Sacramento Kings), stripping off his Jazz jersey to don Carter's old Toronto Raptors' No. 15.

"I wanted this so badly", Mitchell said.

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"Growing up, I wasn't much of a basketball player".

Watch that dunk in the video at the top of the page.

He has earned Kia Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors for games played during December and January and is averaging 23.3 points, 3.7 assists, 3.6 boards and 1.7 steals per contest since Dec. 1.

Mitchell began the contest by running in from the right side. It follows the Skills Competition and the 3-Point Contest.

After all the years of studying the previous high risers such as Carter, Michael Jordan, Gordon and LaVine, Mitchell is proud to enter that category.

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Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell and 76ers first-year man Ben Simmons have separated from the pack in the NBA's Rookie of the Year race.



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