Between half-court alley-oops and an impromptu “dunk contest” Zion Williamson brought a surge of electricity to the 2020 NBA Rising Stars Challenge. However, among his array of highlights, one unforgettable moment headlined the night.
With the rest of the NBA enjoying a week off from regular-season action, New Orleans Pelicans rookies Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Nicolò Melli and Zion Williamson found themselves busy last night as they all partook in their first NBA Rising Stars game.
As has been the standard procedure of late, Zion put on quite a show for the fans in Chicago.
All-in-all, the annual Team USA versus Team World format provided the crowd of the United Center a buffet of tasty highlights; and, unsurprisingly, Zion Williamson found himself at the forefront of the show.
Normally, it would be a difficult task to single out the high-flying rookie’s best dunk of a given game (because, if we’re being honest, his best moments are the dunks that lift us out of our seats). But last night, Zion left us with a slam that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
It shouldn’t go unwritten that Charlotte Hornets‘ sophomore Miles Bridges had quite the night, emboldened by an alley-oop to himself off the glass – securing him the honor of MVP. His multiple acrobatic antics, coupled with a fair share from Zion certainly dilutes the pool for the conversation of dunk-of-the-night.
No, it wasn’t the first-quarter half-court alley-oop from Ja Morant.
Ja throws a DEEP pass from beyond half court to set up Zion for your Heads Up Play of the Day! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/tvlozh30P0
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 15, 2020
Nor this through the legs assist from Morant to Zion’s one-handed slam.
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) February 15, 2020
Could it be this cocked-back jam with his off-hand? Nope.
— NBA (@NBA) February 15, 2020
Ladies and gentlemen, we received the spectacle of the year last night from Zion Williamson with an array of other-worldly plays. The things he can do on the court never fail to amaze.
But with just over a minute remaining in the first half, Zion secured a pass from Atlanta Hawks sophomore Trae Young before slamming it home. The stadium erupted, shaking the United Center to its core. Or was it Zion’s dunk that got the stadium shaking?
It very well could have been registered on the Richter scale – and the damage to the rim was both visible and a cause for repair. Zion casually bent an entire basketball goal – watch for yourself:
Legend of Zion grows: He bent the hoop on this dunk 💪 pic.twitter.com/NXCaW4U5mf
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 15, 2020
The resident maintenance squad had to break out a ladder and toolbox at halftime in order to correct the offset that Zion’s dunk left on the rim.
As the remaining minutes of the game began to run off, Zion, along with his teammates, organized what could be referred to as an unofficial dunk contest. He attempted a trio of awe-inspiring slams, unfortunately falling short on each of them.
Williamson finished the night with 14 points on 63.6% shooting with a pair of rebounds over 19 minutes. Joining him from the Crescent City were Nickeil Alexander-Walker with six points and four assists, as well as Nicolò Melli who notched three points and brought down five rebounds.
Both Alexander-Walker and Melli represented the Pelicans as members of Team World.