03.13.19 | News
City of Palms alumni takes home NBA dunk championship
We saw a glimpse of future slam dunk royalty. Hamidou Diallo’s rim-rattling performance during his games at the 2016 Culligan City of Palms Classic foreshadowed his acrobatics at the 2019 AT&T Slam Dunk contest during NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. The Oklahoma City Thunder rookie dazzled the crowd as well as the judges, who named him the winner over former N.C. State standout Dennis Smith Jr. in the final round.
Diallo brought Superman into the building in more ways than one, ripping open his jersey to reveal the Superman “S” and using Shaquille O’Neal as a prop for a scintillating display of athleticism that drew a perfect score of 50. The 6-foot-5 Diallo leaped over the top of the 7-foot-1 O’Neal and crammed the ball through the hoop, managing to lodge his entire forearm in the basket.
He opened his jersey again to show off the “S” as he hung on the rim by the inside of his elbow, a visual that forever gave him — and the Culligan City of Palms Classic — a place in essential NBA slam dunk contest history.
That dunk came on the heels of his impressive opening foray, a windmill dunk that he completed after jumping and catching a ball that Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook bounced off the side of the backboard. Diallo earned a 48 for that, and his combined score of 98 led the field in the first round.
After watching Dennis Smith try and fail to complete his first dunk of the finals, Diallo played it safe, bouncing the ball off the floor, into the air and executing a slam that was just ho-hum, given the high bar he’d set in the first round. A closer look revealed his leap took him nearly eye level with the rim, a feat the judges seemed to consider as they gave him a 43.
Smith persevered through several false starts to deliver a 50 with his second dunk, putting a modicum of pressure on Diallo for his finale. Again calling on a helper, Diallo jumped up, took a midair handoff from Quavo of the hip-hop group Migos, and swung the ball around as he flew over Quavo and to the basket. When Diallo jammed the ball through the rim, it became academic — his score of 45 from the judges merely confirmed his status as the newest NBA dunk champ.
Diallo joins a select group that includes another Culligan City of Palms alumnus. John Wall pulled off a double feat, winning the 2008 City of Palms dunk contest and the 2014 NBA dunk contest. Diallo can’t claim that, but he can count himself among the many former City of Palms players who’ve made a name for themselves in the NBA.