By early 2000, Carter was a newly minted All-Star, a dynamic scorer and one of many NBA’s rising names, however he was nonetheless a international entity enjoying in Canada for the Toronto Raptors. It might take a generational second, his efficiency in Oakland, to succeed in his grandest stage of fame.
But earlier than Carter may turn into “Vinsanity,” earlier than he may ship probably the most talked-about, most celebrated All-Star moments ever, there was no dunk contest in any respect.
Following the scintillating showdown between Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins within the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, the league’s ugly secret was that the occasion was hemorrhaging cachet. All through the 1990s, it failed to attract star contributors, and those that did compete have been typically derided for the dunks they managed. The NBA started to tire of it as the principle attraction of All-Star Saturday evening, and in 1998, for the primary time in almost 15 years, the league would go into its midseason break with out a dunk contest. “If it is time to give it a relaxation,” NBA commissioner David Stern stated then, “let’s give it a relaxation.”
* All titles replicate people who have been held on Feb. 12, 2000.
Russ Granik (deputy commissioner, NBA): We had been struggling for a while with the dunk contest, largely as a result of a number of the highest gamers simply did not need to do it.
Rod Thorn (government VP of basketball operations, NBA): There was dialog that each one the dunks that could possibly be finished had been finished and possibly it was getting just a little stale.
Mike Sensible (NBA columnist, New York Occasions): The best skywalkers weren’t even competing. It had gone from Dr. J to Michael to Spud Webb to Dee Brown’s flying dunk, and at this level it was simply performed out. It is finished.
Jonathan Feigen (NBA author, Houston Chronicle): I do keep in mind the frequent issues that we nonetheless hear: “It is passé.” “We have seen all the things we’ll ever see.” That was all stated then, and it is stated now, and it will be stated 10 years from now.
David Steele (columnist, San Francisco Chronicle): They have been saying, “You understand, as soon as upon a time Michael Jordan confirmed up yearly and Dominique confirmed up yearly, and it had actual characters and novelties like Spud Webb, and so on., and so on., and so on.”
Elton Model (ahead, Chicago Bulls): The slam dunk contest kinda misplaced just a little of its taste over time. There have been a number of common dunks. I feel Isaiah Rider had the between-the-legs dunk, and I suppose Brent Barry went from the foul line. However it was nothing too excellent.
Sensible: There is not any playground trick that is going to revive this factor.
Granik: There was some hesitation and even concern just a little bit whether or not it was the most effective factor to do or not, however I feel we had had two or three [dunk contests] in a row that simply have been lower than the requirements of what we wished to placed on. So we stated, “Now we have to take a breath right here and see what we oughta do.”
Forward of the 1998 All-Star Weekend at Madison Sq. Backyard, a committee of NBA personnel together with Stern, Granik, Thorn and NBA Leisure president and chief working officer Adam Silver concluded the league wouldn’t placed on its annual slam dunk contest. In its stead can be a brand new taking pictures competitors named 2-ball, the place an NBA participant would staff with a WNBA participant in a two-on-two taking pictures contest. To a world with no NBA Slam Dunk Contest, response from followers, media and the league itself was blended.
Thorn: I’d say it was unanimous initially [to suspend the dunk contest]. There have been at all times individuals speaking on each side, however by the point it was talked by means of, all people obtained on board.
Sensible: I do not keep in mind anyone lacking it. I do not keep in mind anyone saying, “Oh, my god, the dunk contest is gone.”
Granik: The dilemma for us was that, regardless of frequent criticism and a dissatisfaction on our half within the workplace with the way it was going as a present, [the dunk contest] nonetheless at all times rated properly. It was in the most effective spot on the finish of the All-Star Saturday evening, however it nonetheless clearly was a draw. And so our tv companions weren’t actually clamoring to eliminate it.
Frank Isola (NBA author, New York Every day Information): I keep in mind considering, like, “You are in New York Metropolis. How are you not going to have the slam dunk contest?”
Thorn: There have been conversations [within the league] on occasion, speaking about, you recognize, “Possibly we may do it just a little in another way,” and, “Now we have some fairly good dunkers on the market who may be keen to do it,” and, “Possibly we should convey it again.”
Granik: As quickly as we completed the All-Star [Weekend] with out it, we started speaking about, “What ought to we do subsequent 12 months? Ought to we convey it again or not?”
Regardless of the underwhelming response to 2-ball and pleas from a big sect of NBA officers and followers to revive the dunk contest, there can be no dunk contest once more in 1999. That 12 months, a lockout induced a shortened season and worn out the complete All-Star Weekend.
“I believe it will have been introduced again throughout the lockout 12 months if we hadn’t had the lockout,” Granik says. “However I do not recall if we ever made that call lastly or not.”
After a two-year hiatus, the NBA introduced it will maintain the slam dunk contest throughout All-Star Weekend in 2000. The league knew its resurrection needed to be finished proper, so its first order of enterprise was to ascertain a area of marquee stars NBA followers may get excited for.
By way of star energy, no trendy NBA Slam Dunk Contest lineup will match these of the 1980s, a interval when eight of the league’s greatest gamers routinely competed within the occasion. However the NBA achieved a coup in setting its area for the 2000 contest. It chosen six of the sport’s brightest younger gamers, large names who would go on to 22 profession All-Star appearances amongst them. They have been Toronto’s Vince Carter, Toronto’s Tracy McGrady, Houston’s Steve Francis, Detroit’s Jerry Stackhouse, Philadelphia’s Larry Hughes and Golden State’s Antawn Jamison. (Jamison suffered a knee harm previous to the competition and was changed by Charlotte’s Ricky Davis.)
Steve Francis (guard, Houston Rockets): Our coach, Keith Jones, who’s been the USA nationwide basketball coach for years, pulled me into his workplace and stated, “Hey, they need you to be on this dunk contest.” And for me, I did not suppose something of it at first, however he needed to clarify to me the importance of simply being chosen into the dunk contest. As soon as he advised me that, all I did was simply take into consideration when the dunk contest is. It is in Oakland, I knew I needed to play within the rookies versus sophomores recreation, so I used to be like, “It is an amazing thought.”
Butch Carter (coach, Toronto Raptors): We at all times thought that Vince was gonna be in it. The difficulty was if Tracy was gonna be in it.
Vince Carter (ahead, Toronto Raptors): He wished no a part of it. He was like, “No, man. Nah. What is the sense in me going towards you?” I am like, “It could possibly be enjoyable.” It took a number of convincing. It was simply daily, ‘trigger we lived in the identical constructing. I would go up there, “What about at the moment? No? A’ight, I am going to ask you tomorrow.” So it was similar to all day, daily, I am asking him. We performed video video games. It was like, “Yeah, yeah — oh by the way in which, you gonna be within the contest? No? Oh, OK. I am simply gonna ask you time and again.” It was kinda like backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. I imply, he simply didn’t wanna do it.
Tracy McGrady (guard/ahead, Toronto Raptors): I simply felt like I wasn’t a artistic dunker like that. I used to be like, “Why would I need to get into it figuring out that [Vince is] gonna win?” I see his dunks daily and the way artistic he’s. 
Vince Carter: Till the final minute, I feel after [practice one day] we have been playing around — he was doing a little stuff, throwing the ball off the wall, simply all types of stuff — and he lastly was like, “All proper, I am gonna do it.” It was robust. Even previous to [All-Star Saturday], possibly Thursday, he was like, “Man, I do not suppose I wanna do it.” He was gonna again out!
McGrady stayed within the area, although like his cousin Carter, he did little preparation for the dunk contest. It was a typical theme for the contributors.
Francis: That was my first dunk contest. [I’d been in ones] within the ‘hoods and within the streets, yeah, however nothing skilled. Each dunk that I did within the dunk contest in Oakland — I practiced zero dunks. Zero. You possibly can ask the coach, the GM, anyone. I did not even observe any of them.
Dave Haggith (supervisor of media relations, Toronto Raptors): That was the factor that amazed me probably the most. On the evening of the dunk contest, I hadn’t seen any of these dunks from both [Vince or Tracy] earlier than.
Butch Carter: There was a $500 high quality if my younger guys dunked in a observe. There was no dunking allowed. I advised them, “They’re my rims. Keep off my rims.”
Dee Brown (guard, Toronto Raptors): That was simply going to embarrass the older guys. If it wasn’t a $500 high quality, it was, “You needed to take care of Oak [Charles Oakley].” You decide or select which one you need. You’d in all probability be higher off to get the $500 high quality than take care of Oak, Kevin Willis or Antonio Davis.
Paul Jones (analyst, TSN): As a result of the older guys had pleasure. And a man like Oakley — when it got here right down to it, he may harm one in every of his personal teammates for making an attempt to dunk on him in observe, proper?
Vince Carter: The one time I keep in mind training was in San Antonio. We have been on the street in San Antonio at their facility. We have been playing around, simply no matter. It was in all probability per week or two [before the dunk contest]. I imply, it was shut, for positive. So I used to be simply toying round with some stuff and simply seeing if I may do it, how I felt about it and the way they reacted to it. That was form of my observe time. Now and again after observe I would do just a few simply to idiot round when all people’s leaving after which depart it alone. It wasn’t, “I spent 30 minutes a day making an attempt.” You simply did not have that point.
Although there was a area of six contributors set to dunk in Oakland, three particularly caught the attention of these across the NBA. Their reputations appeared to precede them.
Jerome Williams (ahead, Detroit Pistons): I grew up in the identical space as Steve Francis, so I knew him very properly and I had performed with him for summers main as much as him being drafted. I knew that he had an excellent probability of successful simply because I had seen all his dunks. He was very artistic and really proficient. Tracy, we had seen him do some spectacular issues, however I had truly voted a dunk contest in Detroit when he was in highschool a 12 months earlier than he got here to the league. I noticed a number of his creativity from a dunk contest standpoint. So I used to be like, “They do not perceive how nice this dunk contest is gonna be.”
Grant Hill (ahead, Detroit Pistons): I performed in Detroit, and in ’95 that they had a Magic Johnson All-Star Sport on the Palace [of Auburn Hills]. I used to be a decide, and [Kevin] Garnett and Stephon Marbury and Vince Carter and all these guys have been there — it was their class. And Vince Carter went out and did one dunk after which all people give up. So he received the slam dunk contest in ’95 simply off of default.
Vince Carter: KG and people guys have been like, “All proper, that is sufficient.”‘
“Should you watch it on the second dribble I smacked the ball actual laborious and that is once I felt like I powered up, you recognize, like Mario Bros.”
Hill: I feel he simply did a windmill, however it was how excessive he was and the way highly effective it was. I used to be type of in my prime and leaping and dunking and regarded an excellent athlete, and it was like I could not have gone on the market and competed with that. And he was in highschool.
Francis: Even coming into the  dunk contest they stated [Vince] was going to win. So all people was up towards him.
Cynthia Cooper (decide, 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest): We knew he may dunk. We knew he was athletic. We simply did not know what to anticipate from him within the dunk contest.
Sensible: Simply primarily based on the highest three guys, T-Mac, Steve Francis and Vince, unexpectedly you had some official guys levitating above the rim. It was a way that the slam dunk winner that 12 months wasn’t going to be a novelty participant or a cult hero. He was a bona fide NBA All-Star.
Steele: Rather a lot was using on this for not solely the league however the individuals who love the league and actually care about it. So that they wished to see these children actually exit and show that the NBA had not simply fully died as a result of Michael Jordan was gone.
For Carter and McGrady, earlier than the dunk contest, there was the small matter of arriving in Oakland for All-Star Weekend. They have been VIPs in northern California, however their schedules have been packed tight. Few moments from that weekend may match the luxurious through which they reached the Bay Space.
Haggith: Vince and Tracy have been each very younger, and this was one in every of their first actual experiences like that, being flown out to All-Star on their proprietor’s non-public jet.
Glen Grunwald (normal supervisor, Toronto Raptors): We have been sitting on the aircraft, and Vince and Tracy confirmed up. And [Raptors owner] Larry Tanenbaum had — I feel it was a G5 — a kind of ultraluxurious company jets. And Judy, his spouse, had catered a ravishing flight. She had shrimp and filet mignon and also you title it. I used to be seeking to achieve about 10 kilos on the journey.
Haggith: It was shrimp cocktail, hors d’oeuvres — you recognize, fancy meals befitting a non-public jet flight.
Grunwald: And Vince and Tracy get on the aircraft, they usually have been hungry already they usually type of noticed what was there they usually stated, “Oh, man. We gotta get some actual meals.” So that they despatched their driver again to McDonald’s to convey a boatload of McDonald’s to the aircraft.
Haggith, the Raptors’ high PR man, was assigned to remain on his gamers’ hips the complete All-Star Weekend. Whereas the official basketball festivities have been held at Oakland Area (now Oracle Area), most different NBA occasions occurred throughout the Bay Bridge the place the gamers’ lodges have been, in San Francisco.
Haggith: For each Vince and Tracy, however Vince particularly, it was like touring with the Beatles. We’d actually be in a automotive within the parking zone after an look and followers can be rocking the automotive. His schedule for that weekend was jam-packed. We have been backwards and forwards over the bridge between Oakland and San Francisco between NBA appearances and occasions and his observe, and by the point we obtained to Saturday evening, he was already fairly exhausted. And he simply wanted an hour of time to himself to seize a fast nap or get freshened up. So he simply requested to have the ability to come out to the sector for All-Star Saturday evening just a little bit later as a result of he wasn’t on ’til later. The NBA was very accommodating. They organized a automotive for us.
Vince Carter: The site visitors was so dangerous our automotive did not present. It was nowhere to be discovered. No person may discover our driver, so we needed to match 5 of us in a single automotive.
Haggith: Vince and Tracy, you recognize, their knees have been up by their ears squeezed into this automotive. We have been caught on this bridge, and I used to be apprehensive we weren’t going to get there in time.
Vince Carter: That lengthy drive sitting in between these guys … it was brutal. And I used to be like, “I am gonna cramp up and I am not gonna make it. It is gonna be the worst contest.”
Haggith: We pulled as much as the sector a couple of half hour earlier than they have been purported to be on.
When Carter hit the courtroom in Oakland, little did he know he’d be altering the dunk contest endlessly. Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Photographs
Half II: ‘I will have individuals shaking their heads’
Contained in the Oakland Area, a frenzy in contrast to many others was constructing for the primary NBA Slam Dunk Contest in almost 36 months. The celebs had been aligned. Now it was time for the present.
Cheryl Miller (sideline reporter, TNT): Everyone was just a little bit nervous however optimistic that this may be the slam dunk [contest] that might convey again the status.
Steele: It rained cats and canines the entire weekend, and there was unbelievable site visitors getting in there. However it was jam-packed. All the celebrities have been there. All of the celebrities have been there. All of the gamers have been lined up across the courtroom. They have been so glad to see this again and to see the electrical energy that they actually couldn’t wait.
Francis: I used to be simply all of the celebrities there. Denzel. Spike Lee. I feel Halle Berry was there. There was a number of Hollywood individuals.
Within the tunnel earlier than the occasion, Paul Jones interviewed Vince Carter for Canadian tv as he was about to take the courtroom. His tenor didn’t recommend a person about to placed on the present of a lifetime.
Jones: The digicam went off, and I stated, “Good luck, man. That is you. Get on the market and do it.” And he shook his head and stated, “Aw, thanks. Thanks. I do not know, man.” And he walked away. And I assumed, “Oh, OK.” I’ve obtained a grasp’s diploma in sports activities psychology; it simply goes to indicate what confidence does. And a man like Vince — he might have seemed to be not very assured, however on the similar time, he obtained on the market and when the lights went on he rose to the event.
The competition started with Hughes lacking his first dunk. Then McGrady, tossing the ball as much as himself, flushed house a killer reverse leapfrog slam that obtained the gang to its ft. Subsequent was Francis’ flip. With no actual dunk deliberate, he scanned the courtroom, drew inspiration and improvised. He lobbed the ball to himself however couldn’t catch it cleanly. As a substitute, hovering to the ring because the ball rolled off his proper hand, he threw it in off the bounce nearly together with his wrist. The world roared.
Francis: Once I walked out the locker room — they’ve footage of it — I stated one thing barely to my brother. I stated, “I am about to throw it up from half courtroom.” And that was it. I see Shaquille O’Neal, I see Tim Duncan, I see Isiah Thomas, I see Cynthia Cooper — lots of people I idolized rising up. And I see them proper there, and that alone gave me sufficient adrenaline to do what I did.
Subsequent up was Vince Carter.
James Posey (ahead, Denver Nuggets): Getting into, you hear a lot about Vince Carter, and also you see so a lot of his highlights on ESPN it was like, now that he is within the slam dunk competitors, what may he provide you with that we hadn’t seen? I simply keep in mind sitting courtside there with Shaq, KG. Everyone had their camcorders out prepared simply to absorb all the things.
Miller: I requested [Stackhouse] who he is obtained on this, and he stated, “I am going with Vince. He is obtained the liveliest legs out right here, and I’ve seen him and T-Mac huddled up so that they’re planning one thing.” Everybody that was concerned form of knew that one thing spectacular was going to occur with Vince.
Dirk Nowitzki (ahead, Dallas Mavericks): It was my first dunk contest, so I wished to take in as a lot as I may. I used to be fired as much as be there.
“So I stated to Tracy: ‘Simply stand right here and bounce it and get the hell out the way in which.'”
Marv Albert (broadcaster, TNT): I usually did not do [the dunk contest] then ‘trigger I discovered afterward that, as a result of I at all times do the All-Star Sport, it kills your voice for the subsequent day. You are feeling it as a result of it is all in regards to the pleasure of the decision; it is just a little robust on the throat. However that one was value it.
Model: I am form of in a race [for rookie of the year] with Steve Francis, however we labored out collectively at Maryland, in order that’s who I am rooting for to win the slam dunk contest. [After] his first dunk, I am considering, “OK, we’ve an opportunity.” However then Vince Carter comes out with probably the most superb dunks I’ve ever seen.
Miller: Vince and I, earlier than we even [went on] air, I used to be giving him a tough time. Like, “Come on, Vince. How critical are ya?” He was like, “Cheryl, belief me. I will have individuals shaking their heads.” I used to be like, “Actually? So I am considering, ‘shaking their heads’? So what sort of …” And he says, “Cheryl, I form of have an thought what I wanna do, however that may change.”
Vince Carter: I modified my routine within the layup line of the dunk contest.
Carter took to the courtroom for his first dunk that evening with no true plan. The slam he had ready to open with he as an alternative determined to make use of second in his routine. For his debut, he thought again to a dunk he had finished solely two or 3 times earlier than in his life. It was a danger. He had barely accomplished the slam when he practiced it.
Vince Carter: I simply keep in mind they known as my title. I used to be just a little nervous, and as I obtained the ball, I am considering, “Remaining choice: yea or nay?” And I go searching, and I may simply really feel the vitality within the constructing off of simply the anticipation, and I used to be similar to, “Yeah, let’s go for it.”
As his NBA friends ringed the courtroom, Carter approached the ring from the left, took just a few energy dribbles and rose from the ground. He launched right into a 360-degree flip, solely he was spinning the flawed means, rotating the unnatural path for a right-handed dunker. Irrespective of, for he accomplished his revolution whereas concurrently windmilling the ball earlier than stuffing it by means of the ring with a ferocity almost unseen earlier than. It was the primary excellent rating — a 50 — of the evening.
Miller: It was like an enormous tsunami within the area. All the massive wigs, from Shaq, from KG, you had Jason Kidd — all people was like, “Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh!”
Steele: It was simply this big explosion of noise when he did that.
Williams: To come back out of the gate with that — all people was like, “Whoa, wait a minute! Wait a minute!” One thing we would by no means seen earlier than, by no means been finished earlier than, as your first one?
Haggith: Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett, their eyes have been simply miles vast. Their jaws have been on the ground. They simply could not consider what they have been seeing.
Allen Iverson (guard, Philadelphia 76ers): There weren’t any phrases that you would actually management that got here out of your mouth when you noticed it, you recognize what I imply? It was mainly, “Oh, my god,” or, “Wow, did you see that?”
Nowitzki: The group was simply going nuts. I feel I punched someone within the ribs.
After the dunk, Carter set free a primal scream, the response to his doing the most effective execution of a dunk he had scarcely accomplished earlier than the competition.
Vince Carter: I did not hear something. The yell — it was so loud, it was like I used to be in a field screaming with no one else there. I simply went numb for a second. … That dunk I did in San Antonio. Barely made it. In order that’s why I scratched [it]. That dunk was a scratch. However then unexpectedly, I used to be like, “The hell with it. Let’s go.” As I took that first dribble, and for those who watch it on the second dribble I smacked the ball actual laborious and that is once I felt like I powered up, you recognize, like Mario Bros. And I simply felt like I gained two, three inches [when I jumped]. Once I took off and rotated, the rim was proper right here [at eye level].
It took minutes for the gang to relax, lengthy sufficient for Stackhouse and Davis to finish their first-round dunks in relative anonymity. “[Stackhouse] was simply shaking his shoulders, like, ‘Actually?'” Miller says.
All anybody cared about was Carter and what he would do subsequent, however two opponents, McGrady and Francis, didn’t wilt away. For his or her second-round dunks, McGrady uncorked a two-handed windmill alley-oop whereas Francis confirmed off maybe his greatest dunk of the evening — an alley-oop the place he leaned in towards the basket, cocked the ball again towards his ankles and threw it in. McGrady acquired a 49, Francis a 50.
McGrady did not thoughts lending a hand, however he wasn’t able to concede the dunk contest to Carter. Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Photographs
Carter’s second dunk was the slam he initially deliberate for the primary spherical. Ranging from behind the basket, he ran straight towards half-court after which, stopping abruptly a step contained in the baseline, he rose, spun to face the basket and windmilled the ball by means of once more. 4 of the judges raised a 10. One, Kenny Smith, didn’t.
Vince Carter: As soon as I did it, once I seemed over — 10, 10, 10, 10, 9 — I used to be, like, “And he is a Carolina man!” Like, “Come on, bro.” [Laughs.]
Miller: We’re like, “Are you kidding me?” [Smith] nearly obtained banned from future judging on the slam dunk [contest] for that. We have been killing him. Danny [Ainge, broadcasting the event for TNT] was killing him. I am in my producer’s ear throughout the business break. I am like, “Kenny, are you loopy? Simply put down the pipe and again away from it.” He is like, “Cheryl, I may’ve given him a 50.” However he was proper. The one factor Kenny did say was that first dunk Vince did set the bar so excessive that it is like he did it to himself.
Vince Carter: I used to be positively going for an ideal evening. That was my purpose, and he spoiled it for me.
Coming into the third spherical, McGrady, Francis and Carter had already clinched a spot within the finals, and so there was a normal sense they need to carry out a simple slam and save their greatest dunks. Francis missed his third-round dunk, however McGrady let free his greatest jam of the evening. From straight on, he tossed the ball within the air and caught it in a 360-degree flip, pumping the ball between his legs for good measure. It was an emphatic 50 and would have been a a lot greater deal have been it not for what occurred subsequent.
A part of the dunk contest’s guidelines in 2000 acknowledged that at the least one in every of every participant’s first-round slams needed to include assistance from a teammate. Getting into, Carter wasn’t absolutely conscious of the stipulation.
Vince Carter: They did not fairly inform us in regards to the accomplice factor, so we did not observe that in any respect. I did not know. So I used to be like, “What the heck may I do?” I had noticed in — that is in regards to the time the Power Shoe was out — and there was an image of this man within the air and he had his arms between his legs, leaping up within the air. So I stated, “OK, I am gonna strive it.” So I stated to Tracy: “Simply stand right here and bounce it and get the hell out the way in which.” He stated, “What are you gonna do?” I stated, “Simply bounce it and again up. About this excessive.”
On Carter’s center finger that evening have been stitches from an harm earlier within the common season, so he had concern whether or not he may full his dunk. His imaginative and prescient was to catch McGrady’s bounce go in midair, go the ball from his left hand to his proper hand by means of his legs and slam it by means of. As he rose off the ground to strive the dunk, a humorous factor occurred: The NBA gamers courtside started to acknowledge what he was making an attempt. The roar began earlier than he may end the slam.
Reggie Theus (sideline reporter, TNT): When he obtained up, he was already means within the air, however as he threw the ball between his legs, it was nearly like doing the wave. You might see the blokes. Impulsively they have been beginning to construct. They have been standing and grabbing, and unexpectedly [Vince] got here again round and flushed it on the opposite facet. And all people simply erupted. There was only a frenzy when that occurred.
Miller: In my ear, I may simply hear Kenny. Kenny Smith was going loopy, like, “That is a wrap! That is it! That is it!”
Albert: It went loopy. They went nuts. We’re so accustomed at these occasions to see the gamers — it is form of a jocular-type environment at these Saturday evening festivities. So the gamers are free they usually all react and overreact to it, however that was real response. They may not consider what he did.
James Duthie (broadcaster, TSN): As quickly because the ball went by means of the mesh, it was as loud as something I would ever been part of. Everybody was form of doing what Shaq and Garnett and [Chris] Webber have been doing, the place they put their arms out just like the outdated Fred Sanford “I am coming to hitch ya, Elizabeth” factor, the place that they had their arms on their coronary heart. Folks have been falling over chairs and leaping over chairs.
Cooper: We [became] a part of the followers. We do not need to decide this. We wished to share within the pleasure. And that is when Isiah — Isiah’s loopy — he jumped proper over the [judge’s] desk. We’re like, “Possibly it is advisable to be within the dunk contest.”
Isiah Thomas (decide, 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest): I do not know what made me bounce up like that. It is like — I am a fan. There’s an outdated saying in my neighborhood the place I grew up. They used to say while you get shot, it was like, “It shot bolts by means of my coronary heart, child.” And that dunk shot bolts by means of my coronary heart.
Model: I used to be simply making an attempt to hype [Steve] up, like, “Let’s go.” Then after Vince began getting sizzling, it was like, “All proper, it is just about over, bro. However ya did good, man.”
Rick Barry (decide, 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest): Thank god for sluggish movement, as a result of it occurred so quick I do not suppose you actually, really recognize how unbelievable the dunk was till you watch it in sluggish movement.
Jed Jacobsohn (photographer, Getty Photographs): It was a reasonably dynamic second photographically. I had one body that just about sums it up. [The ball] was completely between his legs, he is obtained his eyes up on the hoop.
An image is value 1,000 phrases. Or in Vince Carter’s case, an ideal 50 rating. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Photographs
Sensible: David Steele, who on the time was with the San Francisco Chronicle, has this baritone chortle. And there was this, “Oh, my god! Oh, my god!” And it was so loud it form of reverberated on press row.
Steele: [Laughs.] I do not suppose I used to be acutely aware of really what I stated on the time. I simply keep in mind being in shock. I simply keep in mind yelling lots, a type of a mix of yell and chortle. My chortle tends to hold.
Sensible: Once you’ve obtained reporters falling over themselves, which in some circumstances we have been, you recognize you have upped the ante for the occasion. A few of the most cynical, jaded sports activities writers who had lined 10 of those are sitting there one another and falling over one another. There was part of us that it was all type of like we have been in entrance of televisions as youngsters watching Julius Erving take off from the free throw line once more. It was a kind of moments the place it nearly transported you again to while you began following the sport.
Cooper: There was a way that we would have liked to have a brand new scoring scale for Vince Carter. When you gave him a 10, you are like, “OK, what subsequent?” We would have liked one thing the place we may go, “OK, all proper, that first dunk was a 10. Now we’ll the 13s and the 15s.”
The dunk was an ideal 50. As soon as he landed, Carter prolonged each arms upward, one cocked on the elbow, the opposite straight, and pointed to the sky — a form of Usain Bolt salute eight years earlier than the Jamaican sprinter would win gold in Beijing. As he walked again towards middle courtroom, Carter waved his arms and, to the digicam, mouthed his most well-known phrases of the evening: “It is over.”
Vince Carter: By no means practiced it. By no means tried it in my life. As soon as it went by means of it was like, “Thanks, God.”
Nowitzki: I keep in mind [his] pose. I nonetheless make enjoyable of his pose on occasion. In warm-ups [with Dallas, where Carter now plays], generally I squeak [a dunk] in over my fingernails and I level as much as the Jumbotron and say, “It is over.” And all people’s laughing. However, yeah, it was over at that time.
Half III: ‘After which I rubbed my arm ‘trigger I am like, “That is gonna harm.”‘
To many, it was over. Although to not McGrady and Francis. Regardless of Carter’s outsized efficiency within the first spherical, the pair trailed by only some factors. Within the first spherical of the finals, Francis earned a 43 for a leaning windmill jam whereas McGrady was given a 45 for a two-hand alley-oop windmill of his personal. With all his ready dunks scrapped, the stress was on Carter but once more to suppose up one thing spectacular.
Williams: Sitting there and seeing it reside was like, “OK, that is what the followers paid to see.” [It was] simply, “You provide you with one, I am going to provide you with one.” Backwards and forwards. Backwards and forwards. Everyone couldn’t look ahead to the subsequent dunk. It was that form of buildup since you knew any of these three guys may win and provide you with one thing loopy.
Posey: We have been speaking about, “What’s [Vince] gonna do subsequent?” We have been sitting on the sting of our seats making an attempt to see.
Antawn Jamison (ahead, Golden State Warriors): Me and Vince was greatest buds, so I used to be positively pulling for him. He’d come over and be like, “I obtained one thing they ain’t seen earlier than.” And I stated, “Nicely, I’ve seen all the things.” However he positively had some stuff we had by no means seen earlier than.
“On an excellent day I may have in all probability put my wrist in. On an excellent day.”
Vince Carter: Proper earlier than it was my flip, I keep in mind sitting and considering, “What am I gonna do?” I used to be considering and considering. So I am considering I performed in Gary Payton’s basketball recreation the summer season earlier than main as much as that 12 months. I used to be within the layup line playing around, leaping over the rim, dropping [the ball] in and no matter. And Cuttino Mobley was there at that recreation with me. So we have been speaking [on the court in Oakland], and I stated, “Yo, you keep in mind in that layup line, the entire thing?” I stated, “I’ma strive that, however I’ma put a twist to it.” He was like, “All proper, what are you gonna do?” I stated, “Simply hear me out.”
What he ginned up was his most radical dunk of the evening — one thing new, even harmful, an try he may properly harm himself making an attempt. To visualise the dunk, he first paced it out on the courtroom.
Vince Carter: So I stroll it off, and for those who discover proper earlier than I get to the rim, I say, “Pricey God, please do not let me fall off this rim.” After which I rubbed my arm ‘trigger I am like, “OK, that is gonna harm.”
Approaching the basket from the proper wing, Carter swooped in, bent low to assemble himself after which sprang within the air. He cocked the ball excessive together with his proper hand — excessive, excessive above the rim — and stuffed it by means of. Solely within the course of he continued his arm by means of the ring and grabbed on to the rim with the within of his elbow. He hung there, balletic, for a second so upon replay there could possibly be no mistake what he had simply finished. When he landed on the ground, he held his head right down to hear. The cameras panned the gang, the judges, the gamers. Nobody knew fairly what to do.
It took just a few seconds for followers, gamers and media to realized what that they had simply witnessed. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Photographs
Posey: Everyone was like, “All proper, that is only a primary dunk.” However they did not know he simply put his entire elbow within the rim and was hanging there by his elbow. It took some time to register.
Model: It was similar to a pause, like, “OK, is that good?” After which, “Whoa, wait! His entire arm is within the rim? Woooooaaaahhhhhhhhh!”
Francis: I used to be quiet. I could not consider I simply noticed that. I do not suppose anyone within the area knew what to suppose when that occurred.
Darrell Armstrong (guard, Orlando Magic): [The crowd] was like, “What the hell?”
Steele: It was only some individuals who obtained it, and a few of us on press row jumped up and went, “Whoa!” And all people was similar to, “What? It is only a good dunk.” And I used to be like, “Do you see what he is doing?” And so they type of did a double take, they usually all type of ran for the displays to see once more. After which they confirmed the replay up on the scoreboard, and that is when all people type of went loopy.
Butch Carter: I do not suppose you have ever seen a dunk contest the place a man did a dunk and it shocked all people to determine mentally what he had simply finished.
Mike Fratello (broadcaster, TNT): I simply keep in mind form of saying, like, “Overlook it. That is over now.”
Jason Kidd (guard, Phoenix Suns): It is one thing you dream about while you’re just a little child, however then to see somebody truly do it was superb.
Albert: You go searching and see mouths open in astonishment of what they noticed. It is a kind of — nearly just like the Jack Buck name: “I do not consider what I simply noticed.”
Thomas: It is that second of silence when everyone seems to be in awe that takes your breath away.
Vince Carter: I wished there to be a delayed response, mainly. I keep in mind for me I felt like I used to be up there for, like, two minutes holding on. I used to be like, “OK, Butch is gonna see this someplace and he is gonna go loopy if I fall off this rim.”
Grunwald: I assumed, “Oh, no. He is gonna harm himself now.”
Iverson: To begin with, you are saying, like, “OK, this man can bounce like he [can] bounce,” however you could not consider his creativeness was operating so wild to the place he may create one thing like that.
Model: The creativity — like, who would even suppose to try this? I used to be younger then; I may dunk. However I am considering, like, “Man, there isn’t any means I may do any of that stuff.”
Nowitzki: On an excellent day I may have in all probability put my wrist in. On an excellent day.
Vince Carter: Once I wakened that subsequent morning, my entire proper arm was black and blue.
Butch Carter: Tracy will let you know: When [Vince] caught his armpit within the rim, he knew it was over.
Vince Carter: Most likely a number of guys [did].
Francis: I did not suppose that. I did not suppose I used to be going to lose in any respect. I used to be considering the entire time that I used to be going to win.
Whereas Carter obtained all of the love, Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady placed on a present of their very own. Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Photographs
Butch Carter: Should you say, “What are the highest three dunks ever in a dunk contest?” You are at all times going to have Dr. J in Denver leaping from the free throw line. You are going to have Michael doing the identical factor in Chicago. And also you’re positively going to have Vince’s arm within the rim.
Even for all that, there was nonetheless a contest at hand. Whereas McGrady missed his last dunk, in essence eliminating him from the competition, Francis earned a 48 for his favourite dunk of the evening: an alley-oop reverse leapfrog the place he coiled his physique excessive within the air and appeared to convey his knees to the underside of the web for the stuff.
There was buzz within the area that, for his last act, Carter may carry out a 720-degree dunk — a slam through which he would spin two full revolutions like an acrobat, an incomprehensible dunk he had truly accomplished earlier than. “If something I’d have tried it the final dunk,” Carter says. “If I do know I’d have received the dunk contest [with it], that might have been the time to strive it.” As a substitute, to cap off the competition, Carter sprinted the total size of the courtroom and leaped from a step contained in the free throw line for a two-handed jam. The evening, and the trophy, was his. “I simply wished to do one thing to get it over, to get my dream,” he says. “My dream was to carry that dunk contest trophy.”
Fratello: It was form of a simple conclusion ultimately. When he obtained finished, you knew emphatically that this was his evening.
Vince Carter: As soon as I obtained the trophy, I am strolling off to the again. I am a Dr. J fan. He is my idol, the man who I seemed as much as. That was the primary man that shook my hand and congratulated me as soon as I obtained off the courtroom. Neatest thing ever. He got here and stated, “Younger fella, congratulations,” and we took an image holding the trophy with my pals. And I nonetheless have it at the moment.
One skywalker to a different, as Dr. J and Carter pose with the dunk contest trophy. Andy Hyat/NBAE/Getty Photographs
Duthie: I keep in mind operating into the locker rooms after to attempt to get a one-on-one with Vince, and so we obtained in there in good place and I ran over and all people got here to scrum him. And it was type of one in every of my proud moments as a reporter. I simply stated, “We’re TSN from Canada. Now we have an unique one-one-one.” Which was whole B.S. However all of them sat again whereas we did this three- or four-question one-on-one earlier than all of them caught their mikes in.
Theus: I keep in mind my son wished so badly to take an image with [Vince] and mockingly he was my son’s favourite participant rising up. My son one time stated to me, “Dad, do you might have any outdated movie of you enjoying within the NBA?” And I stated, “Positive.” So I went and obtained a recreation the place I scored my profession excessive in Boston Backyard. And I got here down the primary time and shot a pleasant, little leaner. Subsequent time, made a pleasant go and got here down one other and went to the bucket laborious and obtained a finger roll. And my son appears to be like and says, “So, dad, when are you gonna dunk the ball like Vince Carter?” And I stated, “Dude …” I turned the tape off and advised him to get out of the room.
The thrill from the night wouldn’t die down. Not that evening. Not almost 15 years later.
Theus: That introduced the dunk contest to a different stage, and it was a kind of moments like when Marvin Gaye sang the nationwide anthem [before the 1983 NBA All-Star Game]. It was a kind of moments that modified the way in which individuals sing the nationwide anthem, and from that time on, now not was only a plain 360 ever going to be sufficient.
Iverson: Michael Jackson is my favourite artist of all time, and it was just like the closest factor to a Michael Jackson live performance to me on a basketball stage. I do not suppose a dunk contest will ever be duplicated in that vogue ever once more.
Model: It was my first [NBA Slam Dunk Contest]. Possibly that is why I am form of nostalgic, however there was like a real buzz on that courtroom like I may think about when Dominique and Jordan went at it, you recognize what I imply?
Williams: The one different dunk contest that may actually evaluate with that one is Dominique versus Jordan.
Albert: To me, it was probably the most memorable since Julius when the ABA first launched the dunk contest in 1976 and he took off from the foul line. It is laborious to match doing a slam dunk contest with doing a number of the traditional video games — the playoff video games and the championship video games. However that is one you keep in mind. That is one I am going to always remember.
Granik: I admit to a private view right here that [Vince] may need been the most effective ever. And I noticed Dr. J and Michael and Dominique.
Jamison: The one benefit of me not collaborating is I had a entrance row seat to all the spectacular dunks. Undoubtedly wanting again into it, I’d by no means have had an opportunity to even compete with these guys and the stuff they have been throwing up. Folks are likely to overlook — I imply, Vince was unbelievable — however Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady did unbelievable dunks.
“Everyone was considering it: ‘God bless Vince Carter. The slam dunk competitors is again.'”
Iverson: That is what takes it much more overboard. Some other dunk contest Steve Francis or Tracy McGrady may have received by a landslide.
Feigen: McGrady was fairly nice in it, and I assumed Steve Francis had top-of-the-line performances ever. It is simply he had the second-best efficiency that day.
Francis: [Vince] beat the most effective. He beat the most effective that was on the market to problem him.
Iverson: Vince was simply — it was simply his evening. No person may have beat him that evening. No person.
Vince Carter: After that first dunk that I made and I had achieved it higher than I had ever practiced it, I used to be like, “I really feel dangerous for everyone. Even my cousin.” ‘Trigger I used to be in a zone then that I could not even clarify to anyone.
Miller: Everyone was considering it: “God bless Vince Carter. The slam dunk competitors is again.”
Thomas: It was nice for all of the followers that weathered the storm. Making an attempt to get [to the arena] and all the things else — it was damp and moist and muddy, and site visitors was loopy coming from San Francisco. For the individuals who weathered that — they and I, we felt very rewarded.
Iverson: I used to be part of it, and that is the best a part of it. I can inform my youngsters, my son, that I used to be part of that evening.
Grunwald: You understand how you go to a film and somebody says, “That is the funniest factor I’ve ever seen,” and you then go see the film and it was humorous however not the funniest film you have ever seen? You possibly can overhype issues generally. And Vince exceeded the hype in that dunk contest.
Granik: We left the sector [saying] to ourselves, “Possibly there’s nonetheless one thing left within the slam dunk contest in spite of everything.”
Extra Vinsanity: The hoops legacy Carter left in Canada »
Jason Buckland is a author primarily based in Toronto. He has additionally written for the Toronto Solar, MSN and the New York Occasions.