LaVine cruises to dunk contest, social media victory

Minnesota Timberwolves rookie guard Zach LaVine capped off an exciting NBA All-Star Saturday with four thunderous dunks, scoring 194 points and soaring to victory. His high-flying act drew hundreds of thousands of Tweets, countless Vine videos, and praise from those in the sports world.

But how, exactly, did the fans feel about his performance? We used Canvs to gauge the emotional conversation about LaVine, the three other dunkers in the Sprite Slam-Dunk Contest, and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry’s dominance in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest.

 Be Like Mike

When we first saw LaVine on Saturday, he entered the Barclays Center court to the sounds of the Quad City DJ’s while wearing a Michael Jordan Tune Squad jersey from “Space Jam.” It was clear we were in for a show, and boy, did he not disappoint.

LaVine earned a perfect score of 50 from the esteemed panel of judges, despite how difficult it was to read the scores from their tablets (soon after, they began using the traditional placards for scoring the following rounds).

The first dunk resulted in more than 16,800 reactions about LaVine between 10:30 and 10:40 p.m., 32% of which were crazy.

His follow-up act might was even more impressive, though, as evidenced by the nearly 163,000 total Tweets sent between 10:45 and 10:50 p.m. ET. When only including mentions of LaVine during these five minutes, there were 24,658 total reactions (30% mindblown, 22% love, and 21% crazy).

The finals were a mere formality at this point. Sprite Slam conversation never spiked as high as it did during his second dunk, but LaVine clearly won over both the crowd and the audience at home.

A total of 640,000 Tweets mentioned LaVine during the course of the night (73% of the total Tweets occurred between 10:30 and 11:05 p.m. ET). Of that, 118,191 elicited an emotional response, with the majority of the conversation falling into the love, crazy, and mindblown categories.


While LaVine clearly won the night, Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo also had the crowd buzzing in the first round with an impressive 540-degree dunk.

Nearly 36,000 total Tweets mentioned Oladipo between 10:25 and 10:30 p.m. ET, with more than 5,300 emotional reactions from Twitter (32% love and 24% crazy reactions carried the conversation).

Oladipo was the second-most popular Dunk participant, with more than 110,500 Tweets mentioning him during the evening, 82% of which occurred from his entrance until 11:05 p.m. ET.

The Other Dunkers

Despite a pretty spectacular Greek God-themed entrance, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo finished in fourth place with dunks worth 30 and 35 points, respectively.

The hometown hero, Brooklyn Nets center Mason Plumelee, fared slightly better with a score of 76.

Failing to reach the finals certainly limited the amount of reactions about them, but how did they compare to the other participants?

Dunk Contest Chart
Dunk Contest Chart

As you can see, there was a direct correlation between Dunk Contest results, total Tweets, and total reactions. Who needs judges?

Curry for Three

While probably not as exciting as the Dunk Contest, Curry lit up social media and the court during the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, defeating teammate Klay Thompson and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving in the process.

Beginning this year, there were four extra “money balls,” balls worth two points, and Curry took full advantage of the format change.

He scored 27 points out of a possible 34 to clinch the shooting title, garnering 11,000 total reactions between 9:55 and 10:10 p.m. ET in the process. Love (34%) and congrats (26%) reactions drove the majority of the emotional conversation about the point guard.

The Western Conference ultimately beat the East the next night at Madison Square Garden in the 2015 NBA All-Star Game. However, with stiffer television competition, the game only amassed 203,268 total reactions, 41% fewer than during Saturday’s show.

Tweet Source: Nielsen. Relevant Tweets captured from three hours before, during, and three hours after an episode’s initial broadcast, local time.