Magics Aaron Gordon still soaring from slam-dunk contest experience

March 9, 2016

Magics Aaron Gordon

Magics Aaron Gordon: Ed Gordon’s face exuded pride when he talked about his son making an upcoming appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” getting new endorsement interest and support from new basketball fans worldwide. Finishing second in a close, controversial slam-dunk contest last month at NBA All-Star Weekend was disappointing for Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, but his father now believes it was a “blessing in disguise.”

“He is getting more attention,” Ed Gordon told Yahoo Sports. “Personally, if he had won the slam-dunk contest I don’t think this attention would be going on as long as it has been. If he won it would have been like, ‘That was great. Let’s see what he has next year.’

“It’s a blessing in disguise for sure. It teaches him another tough lesson to expect the unexpected.”

Gordon certainly took advantage of the unexpected after arriving at All-Star Weekend in Toronto as a little-known second-year player for the Magic. The fourth overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft has been stymied by injuries and has been slow to develop. He stole the show, however, in arguably the best dunk contest in league history, losing to Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine. After LaVine and Gordon tied through the final round, LaVine, the reigning champion, got a higher score on an extra dunk to win his second consecutive title.

Afterward, there was a call from many fans that the uniquely athletic 6-foot-9, 220-pounder was robbed. Instantly, a star was born.
“I have always been very confident,” Gordon, 20, told Yahoo Sports. “That Saturday night was one of the biggest stages I’ve ever been on. All I did was trust my ability and remain present. It showed me that even on the biggest stage I could do what I need to do. My confidence is much more solidified.”

Fans still regularly approach him and say he should have won. And of course, Gordon has the perfect response.

“I did win,” he told Yahoo Sports. “There were no losers in that dunk contest.”

BDA Sports agent Calvin Andrews said his client has several endorsement opportunities brewing since departing Toronto. The Magic are also benefiting from Gordon’s newfound success.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in merchandise sales, his jerseys, etc.,” Magic president Alex Martins told Yahoo Sports. “Clearly, he has a higher level of fan [interest] than he had before.”

But of all the post-dunk-contest opportunities, none is bigger to Gordon than making an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Gordon and the Magic left for Los Angeles, where they’ll play the Lakers on Tuesday night, after losing 119-113 to the Golden State Warriors on Monday. He is scheduled to appear on “Ellen” on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

“I’m very excited,” Gordon told Yahoo Sports. “I love Ellen. Great person. Great energy. … I love it. I was like, ‘Wow.’ It’s amazing to see the doors and opportunities that are coming my way and opening up after that dunk contest.”

Ultimately, it’s Gordon’s play that matters most and he has been improving.
Gordon averaged 7.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 0.6 steals in 21.4 minutes per game before the All-Star Break. After it, he has improved to 13 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.1 minutes per game. The renowned gym rat has also been told to ease up a bit after spraining his arm by participating in two 700-shot shooting sessions in one day.

“The incredible thing for him is his confidence is up,” Martins told Yahoo Sports. “It’s almost as if he has solidified in his mind that he can play with these guys. You can see it in his game. He is playing with a lot more confidence. That, coinciding with the fact that he is starting, has helped him from a confidence standpoint.”

With his family and close friends watching from a suite at Oracle Arena, Gordon had 20 points and 16 rebounds Monday. The San Jose, Calif., native, who grew up a Warriors fan, said he got a little emotional before the game thinking about his road to the NBA. Afterward, Warriors All-Star forward Draymond Green offered respect.

“I love his tenacity, heart, the dog and the fire that he plays with. If he continues to work and develop his skill, he is going to be tough. He can be a matchup nightmare, especially with how athletic he is,” Green told Yahoo Sports.

Gordon remains uncertain if he will take part in the dunk contest next year in Charlotte, N.C. He’s certainly proud of his dunk accomplishments, but he wants to focus on becoming an All-Star.

“It was an awesome contest, but I am going to leave something different,” Gordon told Yahoo Sports. “I am going to leave something special. I’m working hard, man. I am working hard and working smart.”

Credit Yahoo Sports