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Heat’s Jaquez eliminated in first round of All-Star dunk contest despite jumping over Shaq

Miami Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. was eliminated in the first round of the Slam Dunk championship during All-Star Saturday in Indianapolis, despite an opening dunk that had him elevating over 7-foot-1 former Heat center Shaquille O’Neal.

Jaquez was the first to compete in the opening round of the two-round competition, participating in a “Heat Culture” jersey.

The first of two first-round attempts by the 6-6 wing had him placing O’Neal in the lane facing the basket, with Jaquez elevating above to complete the dunk on his first attempt.

Jaquez’s second attempt in the two-dunk first round was preceded by a video tribute to others of Mexican lineage who competed in the NBA.

On that second attempt, after missing on his first try, Jaquez bounced the ball to himself, double clutched and reverse dunked while spinning 180 degrees.

Also in the competition were Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, New York Knicks forward Jacob Toppin and G League player Matt McClung, the winner of last year’s contest, with McClung and Brown advancing to the two-player final round. McClung then repeated as champion.

Among the judges for the event were former Heat guard Gary Payton and Broward County prep legend and Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond.

Center Bam Adebayo, the Heat’s lone representative in Sunday night’s All-Star Game, visited with Jaquez in the locker room before Saturday’s competition.

Jaquez was the Heat’s first participant in the competition since Derrick Jones Jr. in 2020, with Jones winning that event.

The Heat also had Harold Miner as a winner of the competition in 1993 and ’94 in the two years he competed (Miner also was named to participate in 1994, but was injured).

The Heat’s only other participant in the franchise’s 36 seasons was Billy Thompson, who placed seventh in 1990.

The dunk competition was Jaquez’s second appearance during All-Star Weekend.

Friday, Jaquez participated in the Rising Stars competition for first- and second-year players.

That proved to be a short night, with Jaquez’s team eliminated in the opening round of the two-round competition.

Playing on a team with San Antonio Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama, and the recipient of an alley-oop pass for a dunk from Wembanyama, Jaquez closed that 10-minute appearance with six points on 3-of-4 shooting, with three assists and two rebounds.

Jaquez’s team lost in that semifinal to a team of G League standouts that included recent Heat acquisition Alondes Williams, who scored 11 points in that matchup.

Williams, who was signed to a Heat two-way contract last week, then finished with three points in his team’s loss in that final Friday round.

Before Jaquez competed Saturday, Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard’s won the 3-point shootout, the Heat without an entrant in that competition. Earlier,  a team representing the Indiana Pacers won the All-Star Saturday skills competition, which also did not feature a Heat competitor.

Sunday, the Heat’s Williams and Cole Swider, who also is on a Heat two-way contract, will compete in the G League All-Star Game in Indianapolis in the hours ahead of the NBA All-Star Game.

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