Second-year Utah Jazz player Jeremy Evans made the most of a last-minute opportunity to come out victorious at the Sprite Slam Dunk contest in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday night.
Evans — who was in the competition only because of a sprained MCL on the Knicks’ Iman Shumpert — has become a fan favorite among Jazz followers in limited game action. On Saturday, Evans also proved that he possesses national popularity, as viewers selected him as the winner via Twitter and phone texts.
After a less-than-spectacular first-round performance, Evans upped his game in the next round and challenged his competitors to up their game, too.
With an eye cam attached to his right ear like a Bluetooth, Evans threw the ball up, caught it and jammed it on the bounce, but it didn’t seem to elicit a big response. The dunk was described as “lukewarm” by analyst Reggie Miller, who along with colleague Charles Barkley predicted Evans would win just before the competition began.
The second round featured an impressive slam by Evans, who put two balls through the hoop, while receiving assist from teammate Gordon Hayward, who who sat in a chair near the goal.
In the third round, actor Kevin Hart played the part of a mailman, delivering a Karl Malone throwback jersey, which Evans placed over his own.
The ensuing throwdown — in which a stretched-out Evans soared over Hart in a pretty visual — was solid enough to ensure him the victory.
In the end, Evans, who played his college ball at Western Kentucky, beat out Minnesota’s Derrick Williams, Chase Budinger of Houston and Paul George of Indiana for the title.
Evans, dubbed “the human pogo stick,” got 29 percent of the over three million votes cast, and looked genuinely surprised when the announcement was made.
Chris, who has been covering sports ranging from high school preps to professional teams for almost 20 years, feels that football season is the best time of the year. He can be reached at [email protected].