I feel like without the fans I didn't have a chance. With them campaigning and pushing so hard I think they were the biggest help. —Utah forward Jeremy Evans
ORLANDO, Fla. — For the better part of two seasons in the NBA, Jeremy Evans has resided in obscurity. On Saturday night, the Utah Jazz forward certainly had his coming out party.
Evans threw down a trio of successful dunks on his way to garnering 29 percent of the fan vote and capturing the Slam Dunk Contest title over Indiana's Paul George, Houston's Chase Budinger, and Minnesota's Derrick Williams.
Highlighting the performance for Evans was undoubtedly his second slam in which Gordon Hayward sat below the rim and lobbed two basketballs that Evans threw down in succession.
That dunk was Evans' favorite by a wide margin and what he believes won him the contest.
"Besides the two-ball dunk, I believe the rest of the dunks of the contest, beat out all the other dunks I did," said Evans. "I felt like the first dunk I did was horrible, but I go in thinking, I did not want to miss any dunks."
While his second attempt was best, Evans also had a few tricks up his sleeve for the sold-out Amway Center. In his first dunk, Evans threw a bounce pass, caught it, and did a reverse slam.
His final throwdown of the evening saw comedian Kevin Hart come out dressed as a postman and deliver the jersey of Utah Jazz legend, "The Mailman" Karl Malone.
Evans said that honoring Malone was perhaps the most important aspect of his performance.
"Playing for the Jazz right now, I feel like that is huge," said Evans on representing Malone. "I feel like Karl Malone and (John) Stockton, those were pretty good players for the Jazz, and like you said, two of the best.
I just felt like I should do that."
What is more unlikely than anything that happened on Saturday was how Evans got to the dunk contest. Nowadays if an individual wants something accomplished, they head to social media to get it out.
Enter the Jazz fan-inspired Twitter phenomenon #LetJeremyDunk which along with a YouTube highlight video that propelled Evans into the contest as an injury replacement for the Knicks' Iman Shumpert.
Without the support from cyberspace, the second year Jazz forward does not believe he would have been able to showcase his slams on this grand stage.
"I feel like without the fans I didn't have a chance," said Evans. "With them campaigning and pushing so hard I think they were the biggest help."
That fan interest was certainly not misplaced. While not a household name, there is no question that Evans is one of the league's finest high-risers. In his first two seasons 69.3 percent of all of his baskets made have been dunks.
Now with the NBA world tuned into his winning effort, more than just the Jazz faithful know his abilities, including his fellow dunk contest competition.
"I think he had a lot of creativity," said fellow dunker George. "That is definitely hard to jump over somebody and catch two basketballs and dunk them. That is a high degree of difficulty right there. I thought he did the necessary stuff to win it."15 comments on this story
With his national exposure going up exponentially this week, the sky seems to be the limit for Evans. He even caught the eye of the unofficial host of All-Star Weekend, Orlando Magic big man Dwight Howard.
Howard predicted that Evans would win and assisted him by getting Hart to collaborate on the third dunk. While Evans is only averaging 1.7 points in 16 games this season, the experience being around Howard and other NBA greats is one he believes can help elevate his game going forward.
"Just to coming out, see the other players even though of course they are a lot bigger than I am means a lot," said Evans. "Just to know you can go out there and compete against whoever it is, even though they're stars.
You just want to be in their footsteps."