Two weeks ago, in Toronto, we saw a celebrity all-star game featuring an ugly display of basketball including the antics of player/coach/comedian, Kevin Hart.
We saw a three point shootout featuring two of the best shooters in the world, Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry who also plays for the Warriors. We saw an actual all-star game that featured everything awesome about basketball except for a small facet of the game: defense.
This all was child’s play to the real spectacle of the weekend: the dunk contest.
The first was Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic. Gordon proved many people wrong showing that indeed, tall people can perform awe-inspiring dunks as he executed a behind the legs dunk over the top of his team’s mascot. However, it would not be enough to beat eventual back-to-back winner of the dunk contest, Zach Lavine.
Lavine’s free throw line through-the-legs dunk would seal the defense of his title as dunk contest champion.
Lavine, a former Bothell High School standout, played basketball in the Seattle area growing up. It was common for Lavine to score 40 or more points in a given contest and display his great leaping ability even in high school against his opponents.
Two of the men’s basketball players had the misfortune of playing Bothell in the Kingco 4A conference. Juniors Brandon Lester and Kyle Sawtell recall Lavine’s insane basketball and athletic ability.
“Zach was the best player I’ve ever played with and against,” Lester said. “He dropped 40 on me and it didn’t even look like he was trying.”
Lester played at Eastlake High School and Sawtell at Redmond High School and were subjected to Bothell’s incredibly talented team ,including current Division I college players Josh Martin (Cal Poly) and Perrion Callendret (Idaho). Lavine was the spearhead of the trio and together, they crushed teams by upwards of 40-50 points.
“Zach was the best player I’ve ever played with and against.”
-Brandon Lester; Junior Guard
“He was always the guy making incredible dunks and doing them in games and on people,” Sawtell recalled. “He was a constant highlight reel whenever I played against or watched him play.”
After high school, Lavine played at the University of California Los Angeles where he played only year before entering the NBA draft. Right away Lavine established his himself as one of the elite athletes in the league.
Now, Lavine is a two-time dunk contest champion and it is no surprise to Lester and Sawtell that he is doing as well as he is.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Lester said. “He was doing some of those dunks at AAU practice in high school with ease.” ◼︎