Anfernee Simons shot to fame on Sunday night (Monday IST) after winning the NBA Dunk Contest 2021. The 21-year-old defeated the likes of the New York Knicks' Obi Toppin and Cassius Stanley of the Indiana Pacers to claim the title. This is perhaps the biggest moment in the career of the young Trail Blazers star and here's all you need to know about "who is Anfernee Simons?"
The NBA Dunk Contest was truncated this year, with a three-man playing field adjusted between the two halves of the NBA All-Star game. Dunkers were allotted two dunks in the first round, with each getting scored on a 50-point scale. Simons and Toppin advanced, while Pacers guard Cassius Stanley was eliminated. Stanley's between-the-legs dunk was the first of the night and received a 44 from the judges. Toppin got creative with a between-the-legs dribble to a reverse dunk on his first attempt, while Simons paid tribute to former Toronto Raptors superstar Tracy McGrady by donning T-Mac's jersey and pulling off a dunk McGrady had in the 2000 dunk contest.
WE TOLD Y'ALL TO LET ANT DUNK!!!— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 8, 2021
SLAM DUNK CHAMP!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/sRlqDjeNUM
Simons bested Toppin to clinch the title, becoming the first Trail Blazer ever to win the dunk contest. The 21-year-old won the contest over Toppin in the final round via a new rule called the "Judge's choice." Simons and Toppin had one dunk each in the round, and instead of a score, the five judges selected a name, with Simons receiving three votes to Toppin's two. The Trail Blazers youngster is in his third NBA year and averages 8.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting a career-best 41.1% on 3-point attempts.
Simons is the first American to enter and be selected in an NBA draft directly after graduation from high school since the league first implemented age restriction rules in 2005. He became the third high school player since 2015 to be drafted in the NBA, behind Thon Maker and Satnam Singh Bhamara. Simons was assigned to the Agua Caliente Clippers for an NBA G League assignment in January 2019 and made his first start against the Sacramento Kings while the Trail Blazers rested Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum for the final game of the regular season. The 21-year-old put up career highs across the board with 37 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists, becoming the first Trail Blazers rookie to score 30+ points since Damian Lillard.