Tech-savvy basketball star Aaron Gordon teamed up with tech giant Intel for a spectacular ‘drone dunk’ at the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest during the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend.
During the 18 February Verizon Slam Dunk Contest, a core highlight of the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Gordon and Intel amazed fans with a surprising and spectacular slam dunk assisted by a drone.
Gordon worked with Intel’s drone team to create a custom drone with the ability to precisely drop a basketball from the air and give Gordon a chance to take home the trophy.
This bespoke Intel-powered drone, with its three stacks of microcontrollers and the Intel Curie power module help, was a ‘fully-redundant hexicopter’ designed to auto adjust against any single point of failure.
With a flight time of 26 minutes, the drone carries a maximum payload of 4.4 pounds with a custom carbon fibre claw to hold the basketball it was controlled by three people as well as Gordon.
The high-tech dunk saw the drone bounce pass the ball from its positioning hovering high above the court to the 6-foot 9-inch tall Orlando Magic forward Who took the drop and headed to the hoop, slipping the ball under his legs and switching from his left hand to his right before dunking it with power and grace.
The slam dunk stunt not only aired live during the All-Star TV broadcast, but was also amplified by Intel across its digital and social channels such as YouTube,
— Intel (@intel) February 19, 2017
and on the brand’s IQ blog at http://iq.intel.com/drone-assist-nba/.
It was further supported by a making-of style video too.
‘I’m from the Silicon Valley so I’m very tech oriented. I wanted to do something creative and unique,’ said Gordon.
‘There was a span of time where the dunk contest got watered down because people weren’t very creative or were very gimmicky,’ added Gordon.
‘To me originality is key. I want to be able to do something that no one has ever seen before.’
Perhaps Gordon’s interest in technology came from his mother Shelly Davis Gordon – an Intel employee who has worked in the semiconductor industry for 35 years?
‘He’s smart, goofy and driven,’ said Shelly Gordon. ‘Aaron gets traits from me like kind of the nerdy side. He likes to read, learn and explore things.’
Indeed, mother and son have also teamed up outside the game where they have helped develop an app call ‘Lucid: Mental Training For Athletes’.
Plus Gordon is also reported to be working on a new VR experience.
‘It was another example of sports merging with tech,’ commented Carlton Myers, Vice President of Live Production and Entertainment for the NBA.
‘I’ve been doing All Stars since 1996, involved with the dunk contest since about 2003 and this is the first time we’ve done something like this.’
This partnership play brought Intel right onto the court in real-time: enabling the brand to activate live, leveraging live fan passion at its peak whilst enhancing the spectator experience of the event.
An objective for so many contemporary sponsor campaigns.
Gordon dunked against fellow NBA All-Stars DeAndre Jordan (LA Clippers), Derrick Jones Jr (Phoenix Suns) and Glenn Robinson III (Indiana Pacers) – who each had two rounds of dunks marked by five judges on a scale of 6 to 10.
Unfortunately, despite Gordon’s impressive hi-tech stunt dunk, the competition winner was Glenn Robinson III.