Hamidou Diallo joins other former Kentucky basketball players on Derby red carpet
A former University of Kentucky star leaped over a legend on his way to an NBA title (well, distinction at least) on Saturday night.
Oklahoma City Thunder guard and ex-Cat Hamidou Diallo won the Slam Dunk Contest during the NBA’s All-Star Saturday showcase, bringing the crowd to its feet and earning a perfect score of 50 from the five-judge panel for a dunk in which he jumped over Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, then hung from the rim at the elbow while using his left hand to reveal a Superman T-shirt under his jersey.
With the stirring slam, Diallo reached the finals where he faced New York Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr.
Smith failed to complete a dunk in the first round of the finals, and Diallo played it safe on his to take the lead.
Smith finally completed a dunk on his second attempt after several more false starts (drawing scattered boos from the crowd after the judges rewarded him with a score of 50), but Diallo sealed the title with a closing dunk in which he grabbed the ball from the raised hands of rapper Quavo as he jumped toward the rim.
“It was the New York in me. I know how to play things down a little bit,” Diallo said when asked if he was nervous about the contest, according to the Thunder’s official Twitter account. “I knew if I did what I had to do I was gonna bring the trophy home.”
Diallo is the third former Wildcat to win the dunk contest. Kenny “Sky” Walker won in 1989 and John Wall won in 2014. Former Louisville Cardinal Donovan Mitchell won last year’s contest and Western Kentucky’s Jeremy Evans won in 2012.