Mac McClung put on a show in winning the 2023 NBA Dunk Contest.
But who is Mac McClung? There’s a reason you may be unfamiliar with the 24-year-old if you only follow the NBA: He hasn’t played a game in the NBA this season.
In fact, McClung has only appeared in two NBA games in his career, with the Chicago Bulls in December 2021 and Los Angeles Lakers in April 2022. McClung has spent this season in the Philadelphia 76ers’ organization, playing for the G League’s Delaware Blue Coats .
“I’m super grateful for this opportunity,” McClung said afterwards. “I think a lot of guys in the G League probably deserve this light that I just got. I’m very appreciative and I hope I represented well for them, and I really appreciate the NBA giving us this opportunity.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the NBA’s new slam dunk champ:
Who is Mac McClung?
“It kind of feels like ever since the beginning I was the underdog, even when I was younger,” McClung said after the dunk contest.
McClung has been known as a prolific dunker since his standout career at Gate City High School (Virginia). During his time at Gate City, he topped state scoring records held by the likes of Allen Iverson and JJ Redick and won the 2018 BallisLife All-America Game Slam Dunk Contest.
McClung attended Georgetown University for two seasons, where he averaged 14.2 points per game, before transferring to Texas Tech. He averaged 15.5 points per game in his lone season with the Red Raiders in 2020-21. He eventually declared for the NBA draft, although he went undrafted. He split 2021-22 bouncing between the Lakers and Bulls organizations, but was still named G League Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game. McClung averaged 19.1 points in 18 games in the G League this year.
“I’m not really worried what other people think, good or bad. I’m just staying the course. My goal is to make an impact in the NBA, and I’m just going to keep working until that happens,” McClung said.
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Here’s how he won the Dunk Contest on Saturday night:
The Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III got the action started and got teammate Jose Alvarado involved on his first dunk – Alvarado “stealing” the ball and throwing an alley-oop pass off the backboard to Murphy for a 360 dunk. Murphy placed third with his dunk.
The Knicks’ Jericho Sims showed off his vertical as he put his arms through the hoop. He received the second-highest score.
Kenyon Martin Jr. required a few attempts, but eventually put down a nice dunk. Still, he received the lowest score on the first pass.
McClung posted the best score of the first round, recording 50s across the board for his dunk. He took the ball out of the hands of a man who was sitting on another squatting man’s shoulders, leaping over both to stuff the ball home after touching it off the backboard.
“That’s (what) I was banking on, the slow-motion video. I knew (touching the backboard) would be hard to see, but I’m glad everybody saw it after the slo-mo,” McClung said.
Martin brought out his father, longtime NBA standout and former first overall pick Kenyon Martin, for his second dunk that involved a unique ball. He required a few attempts but eventually had another nice dunk.
Murphy showed off his athleticism with extreme ball movement on his second dunk.
Sims’ second dunk involved a prop envelope he attached to the net. When he opened it, it revealed the No. 50 (Sims was given a 47.8 by the judges).
McClung nearly recorded another perfect score on his second dunk, getting 50s from all but one judge.
Murphy kicked things off by throwing a windmill down after throwing the ball to himself.
McClung answered by jumping over someone and dunking after a double-pump, earning another round of 50s from the judges.
Murphy’s second dunk was nice, but McClung answered in emphatic fashion. Sporting his high school jersey, McClung closed down the competition with another 50. He did Vince Carter’s iconic “It’s over” motion after the dunk – “I loved Vince Carter,” McClung said afterwards – and received the trophy minutes later.
“I think something took over me. I don’t know what that was. But I wasn’t really even thinking at the moment,” McClung said of his reaction. “It was just kind of something that happened, to be honest with you.”
McClung said he’d be willing to return to compete next year. “If you guys want me, I’ll be back,” he said on the court.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mac McClung wins NBA dunk contest at All-Star Weekend