Mac McClung: From G League Player to Dunk Contest Champion
Mac McClung is an overnight sensation. The 24-year-old Philadelphia 76ers guard has appeared in more dunk contests (one) than regular-season games (zero). But that didn’t stop him from stealing the show at the 2023 NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday. After three perfect scores, McClung won the contest, and the basketball world is now abuzz with his name.
McClung was a surprise entrant in the contest and was not even on an NBA roster when he accepted the invitation back in January. He was a G-League player, signed from the Delaware Blue Coats, and had only signed a two-way deal with the Philadelphia 76ers earlier that week. But his dunking skills were perfected, and he earned three perfect scores and the trophy.
McClung’s performance was praised by TNT commentators Reggie Miller and Shaquille O’Neal, with Miller claiming that McClung “saved” the dunk contest. The event was struggling, but McClung’s show-stopping performance gave it a much-needed shot in the arm.
McClung’s only NBA experience was a pair of 10-day contracts with the Chicago Bulls and one late-season appearance for the L.A. Lakers. He was G League Rookie of the Year in 2021-22, but still has work to do on his all-around game. Nevertheless, fans have flocked to Wilmington, Delaware, to get a glimpse of him in action with the Blue Coats.
While many big stars have refused to participate in the dunk contest, McClung has said he is ready to compete if the NBA will have him. He has already been tipped to compete in the 2024 Dunk Contest in Indianapolis, and Zion Williamson has even mentioned he is considering participating next season.
The story of McClung is quite intriguing. He has had only four games of NBA experience. The Delaware Blue Coats currently have him in the G-League, after he was previously with the South Bay Lakers, where he was awarded the league's Rookie of the Year. Entering the 2024 dunk contest, McClung will be a much more recognizable figure than he was this past Saturday, regardless of whom he is up against. He is now more than a G League player. It is likely that the star who was born on Saturday will remain the dunking champion for many years.
0. “Mac McClung's dunk contest win brought positive vibes to the Philly sports scene” PhillyVoice.com, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.phillyvoice.com/sixers-news-mac-mcclung-dunk-contest-highlights-video-philly-sports-championships/
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3. “NBA All-Star: Mac McClung ‘saved' Dunk Contest, according to Shaquille O'Neal and Magic Johnson” CBS Sports, 19 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-all-star-mac-mcclung-saved-dunk-contest-according-to-shaquille-oneal-and-magic-johnson/
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6. “Mac McClung steals the show, wins 2023 AT&T Slam Dunk” NBA.com, 22 Feb. 2023, https://www.nba.com/news/2023-slam-dunk-contest
7. “76ers' Mac McClung Leaves NBA Fans Speechless with 2023 Slam Dunk Contest Victory” Bleacher Report, 19 Feb. 2023, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10066133-76ers-mac-mcclung-leaves-nba-fans-speechless-with-2023-slam-dunk-contest-victory
8. “Who is Mac McClung? Former high school phenom breaks out as 2023 Slam Dunk champion at NBA All-Star weekend” CBS Sports, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/who-is-mac-mcclung-former-high-school-phenom-breaks-out-as-2023-slam-dunk-champion-at-nba-all-star-weekend/