Mac McClung took home the trophy in the annual NBA Dunk Contest on all-star weekend last Saturday. This event happens once a year in a different city each year, which is predetermined by the NBA years in advance. This year’s contest was in Salt Lake City, Utah.
McClung, 24, became popular back in his high school days when he was an internet sensation. The high school basketball player would make videos of him dunking in crazy ways, including jumping extremely high as well as spinning multiple times in the air. These videos would often go viral.
McClung was not the highest-rated recruit in the actual game of basketball coming out of high school, however. The internet star went on to play at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., from 2018 to 2020 and later transferred to a stronger Division I program at Texas Tech.
While he did not stand out above anyone at the college level, his dream and playing career for McClung did not stop there. After going undrafted in the 2021 NBA Draft, McClung signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers back in August of that year.
He was cut two months later, in October. Since then, McClung has found himself on teams where he has received quality playing time in the NBA G-League, the minor league of basketball. The once-known internet sensation was now in the shadows of the big leagues.
Now, McClung has started to make his mark on the league, as his story ultimately speaks for itself. The 24-year-old player was invited to the NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City for the 2023 Dunk Contest and has also signed a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, getting him back to the NBA level.
Perhaps the most compelling part of McClung's story is not how he has gone through it all to try and make it to the NBA, but rather how he put on a show for himself. He impressed the world and made a name for himself by returning to his roots and dunking the ball in crazy ways on the biggest stage.
After only making total career earnings of just over $100 thousand, McClung won another $100 thousand for winning the dunk contest alone. Not only did he win the prize, but McClung also won over the hearts of the entire community and perhaps even saved the popularity of the dunk contest altogether.
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