Surprised Mac McClung Won The NBA’s Dunk Contest? Don’t Be.

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USA News-Sports Division February 20, 2023
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Surprised Mac McClung Won The NBA’s Dunk Contest?  Don’t Be.

Surprised Mac McClung Won The NBA’s Dunk Contest? Don’t Be.

Mac McClung put on a show last night by winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.   He’s been a big part of this weekend’s NBA 2023 All-Star Weekend festivities in Salt Lake City. 

On Friday, McClung balled out during the Jordan Rising Stars event.  He became a household name on Saturday night with his performance in the All-Star Weekend’s marquee event.  McClung received perfect scores of 50 on three of his four dunk attempts!  His second dunk earned a composite score of 49.8, but that might have well been a 50 as well.  Trey Murphy III of the New Orleans Pelicans put on a pretty solid Dunk Contest performance as well, but it wasn’t enough.  Mac McClung of the Philadelphia 76ers is the 2023 AT&T NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion.  ICYMI - here’s his work from last night:

This guy hasn’t even played in an NBA game this season yet.  In fact, the 24-year-old McClung has only appeared in TWO NBA regular season games - in his entire career!  Who was that guy shaking hands with Dr. J after accepting the Dunk Contest trophy???  Many people had never heard of Mac McClung before last night.  Others were even criticizing the NBA for both not being able to recruit big-name talent (again) to participate in the dunk contest and including McClung in the four-man dunk field.  I don’t think anyone’s ripping the NBA anymore for this decision.  The world knows who Mac McClung is now.

Were you surprised that he won last night’s dunk contest?  No offense to Jericho Sims, KJ Martin, and Trey Murphy III, but…you shouldn’t have been surprised that McClung won.  Then again, you may not have ever heard of Mac McClung in the first place.

Mac McClung became an internet sensation and one of the most exciting high school basketball players in America during the mid-to-late 2010s.  The Gate City, Virginia native became known for his ability to finish above the rim despite only being a 6’2’’ guard.  McClung wasn’t just an acrobatic dunker.  He could score from anywhere on the floor.  In fact, he broke Virginia high school state scoring records held by Basketball Hall-of-Famer Allen Iverson and former Duke University star and longtime NBA sharpshooter J.J. Redick.  He was a 3-star recruit who went on to play for another Basketball Hall-of-Famer in, Patrick Ewing, at Georgetown.  That’s pretty, pretty good.

McClung played two seasons at Georgetown before declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.  He later withdrew his name and instead transferred to Texas Tech for a year before declaring for the draft again.  McClung averaged 14.7 points per game in 79 games at the collegiate level but went undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft.  He played in the NBA’s Summer League before signing with Lakers’ G-League Affiliate – the South Bay Lakers.  Last season, McClung signed a 10-day contract with the Chicago Bulls and made his NBA debut by scoring 2 points in 3 minutes during a December 29th game against the Atlanta Hawks.  He appeared in one other NBA game that season – with the Lakers on April 10th.  Since then, he’s been in the G-League.  McClung has played well in the G-League.  Last season he average 21.6 points, 7.6 assists per game and shot 37.7% from three-point range. 

This season he’s played with the affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, the Delaware Blue Coats and averaged 19.1 points per game, and has shot 50 percent from downtown.  He has handles, can shoot, and can jump out of the gym.  Who does McClung compare to?  I think he’s like a scoring version of “White Chocolate” Jason Williams with a better jump shot and Vince Carter’s jumping ability.  Make no mistake about it – he can play a little bit.  His performance in the G-League (or the NBA needing to get him into the Slam Dunk Contest on a technicality) led the 76ers to sign McClung to a two-way contract recently.  Now back to the good part…

Remember that part where I said McClung became an internet sensation?  This dude had an impressive mixtape.  Many basketball junkies became familiar with McClung’s work…quickly!  Don’t feel bad if you haven’t seen McClung’s high school highlights.  We know that TNT’s Kenny Smith hadn’t seen these clips before!  He even admitted so last night!  Here are a pair of Mac McClung high school highlight clips for your viewing pleasure:

Having a 43 ½ inch vertical jump helps, doesn’t it?  That’s exactly what McClung possesses.  His jumping ability is exactly what catapulted (pun intended) McClung to win the 2023 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.  His performance last night left the jaws dropped of All-Stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Hall-of-Famers like Shaquille O’Neal, and Hollywood stars like Michael B. Jordan.  It might have given McClung another shot at sticking in the NBA.   He may have also single-handedly saved the league’s Slam Dunk Contest.  McClung even said last night that if the NBA invited him to participate in next year's contest, he would do it again.

If people didn’t know who he is before, the world certainly knows who Mac McClung is now!  This kid now has something in common with Carter, Michael Jordan, and Dominique Wilkins.  They have all won the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend.

What a story!  I’m sure that this weekend will be one that Mac McClung never forgets.

Photo Credit: Depositphotos

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