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Lillard on Simons’ Winning Dunk, “That was my Idea”

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In an interview with The Athletic’s Jason Quick, Trail Blazers guards Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard discussed the thought process behind the final dunk.

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70th NBA All-Star Game 2021 Photo by Pamela Costello/NBAE via Getty Images

Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons took home the hardware from the 2021 NBA All-Star Game Dunk Competition thanks his explosive leaping ability. Following the victory, Simons opened up about the collaborative effort that went into the process.

Simons, who clinched the dunk title with a finish that featured him leaning in to kiss the rim, revealed to The Athletic’s Jason Quick that he had never attempted to finish a dunk with that type of flair in practice.

“In practice, I’ve never actually kissed the rim, but I was like, ‘I’ve got to commit to it,’” he said. “So I tried to put a mouthpiece in at the last minute, but it didn’t fit my mouth, so I scratched it and emphasized the smooch face so people know I’m right there next to the rim and I’m trying to kiss it.”

In the final round of the competition, Simons was tasked with surpassing a powerful dunk from Knicks rookie Obi Toppin. Just before the final stage was set, Simons turned to Damian Lillard for advice. Simons explained to Lillard that he had two dunks in mind. When presented with the choices, Lillard insisted that Simons go with the kiss-themed finish.

“I have to take credit for that,” Lillard said. “That was my idea to blow a kiss at the rim so people know that’s what he was doing.”

From getting advice on how to carve up NBA defenses to producing award-worthy dunks, it is clear that Simons should listen to Lillard’s well-timed advice.

You can read the full story from Quick at The Athletic (subscription required).