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Standout player from the NBA All-Star weekend is back to being a journeyman

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Remarkable story about pro basketball next. The standout player from the NBA All-Star Weekend is not an All-Star. In fact, Mac McClung is a journeyman, as they say. He returned to the court last night for the Philadelphia 76ers' developmental team, the Delaware Blue Coats. He played 24 minutes in his team's loss to the Motor City Cruise.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Just a few days ago, McClung soared over the basketball world as the winner of the NBA slam dunk contest.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KENNY SMITH: Let's go, young fella. Go. You have won me over, Mac, with the 360s.

REGGIE MILLER: I'm going to say this - Mac McClung.

SMITH: Was that a 720?

MILLER: Mac McClung has saved the dunk contest.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) That's how we talk about A Martínez here on the program. (Imitating Kenny Smith) You have won me over, A.

Anyway, NBA announcers Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller were on TNT celebrating the performance of a 6'2" guard who so far has not even played in the league this season. Here's Keith Pompey, the Sixers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

KEITH POMPEY: He's a pretty good basketball player. I mean, he was a second-team all-conference player at Texas Tech. You know, he was a YouTube sensation in high school for dunking.

MARTÍNEZ: I could win a clunk contest. That's about it.

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

MARTÍNEZ: After going pro, McClung has only played two games in the NBA. He's spent most of his pro career in their equivalent of the minors called the G-League, where he was rookie of the year last season.

INSKEEP: But it wasn't until last week that the Sixers signed McClung to a two-way contract that allowed him to bounce back and forth between the Sixers and the Blue Coats as a sort of trial run.

POMPEY: Hey, let's get him in. And let's see what we can do with him with our G-League team. And if he performs well, let's elevate him to a two-way contract to see if he can take that next step.

INSKEEP: Days later, Mr. McClung became the first G-League player ever to win the Slam Dunk Contest. Pompey says Philadelphia fans are behind him.

POMPEY: Philadelphia is a city of underdogs, right? And I feel like by him doing that and winning it and being the underdog, that's why he became the fan favorite.

MARTÍNEZ: But even with fan support, Pompey says McClung will have to show he can do a lot more than just throw down rim-rattling dunks to get back to the NBA to stay. McClung and the Blue Coats next play tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARMS AND SLEEPERS' "MINGUS MAPPS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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