First the Super Bowl. Now NBA All-Star Weekend.
Intel’s drones made another appearance on a big-time sports stage, just two weeks after appearing at Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show.
During Saturday’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest, part of an annual NBA event that also includes the All Star Game and 3-point contest, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon used Intel’s “AscTec Neo” drone to perform one of his dunks — the first ever to be completed with assistance from a drone.
“There it is, the Intel drone!” TNT announcer Kevin Harlan said on the national live broadcast as an Intel logo appeared on screen. “Fresh off the Lady Gaga Super Bowl halftime performance.”
As Star Wars theme music played on the stadium speakers, the drone hovered over the rim and dropped the ball as Gordon ran toward the hoop. He let the ball bounce once before slamming it home — though it took him four tries to complete the stunt successfully. The judges only gave him a 38 out of 50 possible points.
— NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2017
Here was the reaction on Twitter:
See I thought he was going to dunk the actual drone. That woulda been way cooler
— Ronnie 2K 2K17 (@Ronnie2K) February 19, 2017
The drone was cool. Wish he coulda made it on the first try ?#DunkContest
— Erica Kane Burton (@IamErica_Kane) February 19, 2017
Who among us has not had our dreams of dunk contest glory scuttled by an inability to windmill a ball bounced by a drone
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) February 19, 2017
Gordon is ripping off this drone dunk from David Thompson in 1976
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 19, 2017
A drone?? This is ridiuculous. At this point, the Slam Dunk Contest has basically turned into the Fast and Furious movies
— Not Bill Walton (@NotBillWalton) February 19, 2017
Before this dunk contest I was going to buy an Intel drone but now after seeing all those missed dunks I will no longer purchase one
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) February 19, 2017
THIS IS A COMPLETELY SPONTANEOUS DRONE DUNK!!!!
WITH A SPONSOR, GRAPHIC, AND THEME MUSIC. pic.twitter.com/ySqo7MChhW
— McNeil (@Reflog_18) February 19, 2017
Here are the details on the Intel drone:
Aaron Gordon drone specs
– Made by Intel
– Fully-redundant hexicopter
– Flight time: 26 mins
– Weight: Roughly 11 lbs
– Payload: 4.4 lbs pic.twitter.com/WhP0HGCH3p
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 19, 2017
Before Gordon completed his dunk, TNT color commentator Kenny “The Jet” Smith said “that drone, I gotta get one of those,” while fellow analyst Shaquille O’Neal noted that “$1,500, Best Buy, I bought one and lost it the same day.”
[For more from Kenny, Shaq, and Charles Barkley, check out GeekWire’s interviews with the Inside The NBA crew from CES]
In a blog post written before Saturday for Lucid, a mental training app for athletes, Gordon wrote that “obviously, I can’t reveal what tricks I have up my sleeve, but let’s just say that I’m really big on innovation.”
An Intel press release noted that Gordon was born and raised in Silicon Valley, while his mother is an Intel employee.
“I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to do for this year’s contest pretty much since the contest ended last year,” Gordon said in a statement. “I wanted to incorporate technology and do something creative and unique, which is why I was so excited to partner with Intel. Originality for me is key. I wanted to avoid doing anything gimmicky and get back to the creativity of the contest. And what better way to do that than to surprise the crowd with a drone powered by Intel?”
Last year, Gordon won the Slam Dunk title after he used a hoverboard as a prop for one dunk.
Intel continues to market its drones during sporting events. During the Super Bowl halftime show two weeks ago, Intel showed off one of its drone performances, using 300 quadcopters to create different images and logos in the sky.
Intel has partnered with the NBA in the past; during last year’s NBA All Star Weekend, it showed off its 360-degree replay technology. The company is making a big push into the sports world as a way to demonstrate its products and services.
“When Aaron Gordon approached Intel with the idea to complete the first-ever drone assisted slam dunk, we couldn’t wait to support him in his quest,” Anil Nanduri, vice president of Intel’s Drone Segment, said in a statement. “Intel is leading and committed to bringing new capabilities and innovations to the drone ecosystem, so obviously our team saw this as an opportunity to do just that. Our goal as a brand is to use technology to create amazing experiences and I can think of no better way to prove that than by working with Aaron on this historic dunk attempt.”
In other NBA All-Star Weekend-related tech news, can someone get Paul Pierce some tech support?
More impressive than that drone dunk pic.twitter.com/aaIDE5OSLt
— Jason Gallagher (@jga41agher) February 19, 2017