Ranking Mac McClung’s near-perfect NBA All-Star dunk night, from the tap-and-go slam to the 540 walk-off jam

Mac McClung, the only G League player in history to even enter the dunk contest, let alone win it, put on a show for the ages on Saturday night in Salt Lake City, nailing all four of his attempts on the first try. That’s one of the things that has killed this contest: Guys bricking a bunch of attempts before finally putting one down. McClung was perfect, joining Spud Webb as the only players in history 6-foot-2 or shorter to card three 50s in a single dunk contest. 

Below, I’m going to rank McClung’s four dunks, beginning at the end. 

1. The walk-off

McClung saved his best for last. Trey Murphy III was hanging around with some pretty impressive stuff of his own, but when McClung threw down this 540, as Draymond Green could be heard saying on the TNT broadcast, it was a wrap. 

That’s worth a few more looks.

The are jumpers and there are fliers. McClung flies. Floats might even be the more appropriate description. That dunk is a jaw dropper. Some people were calling it a 720, which would be two full revolutions, but you can watch again and see that he finishes halfway through the second turn, as a reverse, then continues all the way around on his descent. An absolutely nasty dunk, and perhaps just as important, again, it was on the first try. The people got up, and he didn’t let them down. He was rewarded with a 50. 

2. The double-clutch reverse

Kenny Smith called it a “hesi” dunk, but it was more than that. On his third dunk of the night, McClung got head level with the rim as he took the ball out of the hands of his stunt man, then more or less froze in mid air for long enough to bring the ball from between his legs up to his chest, then back down to his waist and back up again for the finish. 

Indeed, the difficulty of this dunk lies in the hang time. It’s impossible to put into words how long you have to hover at rim level to give yourself time for a full double clutch. And again, he had to bring the ball up to his chest first before he even started the down-up double clutch. It’s actually almost a triple clutch. This is one of those dunks you have to slow down and really contemplate the subtleties to really appreciate just how difficult it was to pull off. 

3. The tap and go

Kenny Smith wasn’t sure if McClung tapped the glass before flushing his first dunk. You’ll see below that he did. This was crazy to pull off as your first dunk, on your first try, with all the hoopla surrounding McClung in this contest. 

McClung goes over two dudes here, one sitting on the shoulders of the other, which equates to leaping over a standard door in your house. McClung has his head right there with the rim while taking hold of the ball below his waist. To go from that spot to above his head, tapping it off the backboard and throwing down a flush reverse in one smooth motion was well deserving of the 50 he scored. 

That said, I actually think the next dunk on this list was more difficult, but I give this one the edge because, again, it came with all the pressure of it being McClung’s first attempt. The “rising to the occasion” element is definitely part of this package. 

4. The 360 windmill

I can’t believe I’m calling this McClung’s “worst” dunk. This jam was so nasty. It wasn’t quite a full 360 if you want to be technical; McClung starts his turn before he takes off, as just about everyone doing a 360 does. But for all intents and purposes, this is a 360 with a windmill thrown in the middle of the revolution. 

There was a time when Dominque Wilkins was a legend just for doing the windmill part. And this wasn’t a cheap windmill. This was a full windmill, and McClung still managed to flush it with power. This should’ve been a 50. 


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