Vince Carter almost missed iconic 2000 Dunk Contest

Paul Mata
Vince Carter almost missed iconic 2000 Dunk Contest
Despite having a lot of things go wrong for him on the day of the contest, Vince Carter decides that the show must go on

ATLANTA, USA – Vince Carter may not get a proper ending to a stellar career spanning 4 decades as the NBA shut down its season due to the coronavirus, but he will forever be remembered for his gravity-defying dunks.

There is him jumping over Frederic Weis for a breathtaking jam dubbed as the “Dunk of Death” as USA demolished France to win the gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 

He also had countless of victims in the NBA, including Alonzo Mourning, who Carter bared did not talk to him for several years after that embarrassing poster slam. 

Who would forget the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, which Carter won convincingly after throwing down a 360-degree windmill dunk, an off-the-bounce between-the-legs slam, and the iconic elbow-in-the-rim jam. 

But unknown to many, that legendary performance almost did not happen. 

“That night was the beginning of probably the worst day ever to be in a dunk contest,” Carter said. “We have practice time. We have a car. We were in San Francisco and the arena was in Oakland.”

The vehicle, however, was nowhere to be found and Carter and his crew had to borrow another car just to get to the venue. 

“Of course, for those who know, that transition from the bridge takes forever. It was horrible.” 

“So we missed our practice time. I didn’t get to practice in the auxiliary gym. By the time we got there, it was the end of the Three-Point Contest where they’re telling you to come and get ready.”

Tracy McGrady, who was also a participant in the Dunk Contest, was already trying to talk Carter out of doing it since they were not confident of giving their best having missed ample time to warm up. 

But for Carter, the show had to go on. 

“For me, you could ease your way into it or you can make a statement. And I was swinging for the fences. I wanted to make a statement.”

He added that he had been preparing all of his young life for this opportunity after having studied past dunk contests before. 

“My mom still has the tapes of me taping the dunk contest. It’s blurry now, for those who have VHS. When you play it so many times, it’s wavy now. That’s what my tapes look like,” Carter said. 

Carter initially had a prepared list of dunks that he would do but decided against those as he felt some of them were not good enough.

“So, the first dunk was the reverse 360. I had practiced that dunk and I could barely make it, like barely make it. For those who know me, I’m a stickler for missing dunks.” 

In his maiden attempt, Carter flushed his first dunk with ease. 

Knowing his confidence level was through the roof, Carter then went for the between-the-legs dunk with the help of McGrady. 

“I remember telling Tracy, just bounce the ball and get out of the way.” 

“He bounced the first time, it was too high,” Carter recalled. 

“And he said, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘Just bounce the ball and get the heck out of the way.'”

“He said, ‘Alright.’ Last thing I remember him telling me, ‘You’re crazy.’ Sometimes, you got to be crazy.”

After that dunk, he was gesturing and mouthing out, “It’s over.”

“The whole ‘it’s over’ thing, it was more like… I was saying ‘it’s over’ because I was making all these dunks that I’ve never tried and it actually worked.”

For the elbow-in-the-rim dunk, Carter revealed he only made that up at the moment. 

“If you notice, if you go back to watching it, I walk to the rim looking because I was just trying to buy time. I’m thinking this through when it was my turn,” Carter said. 

“Last thing I did was rub my arms in, ‘Here goes nothing.'”

Silence followed the dunk.

“You know, Shaq’s face said it all. That’s what I wanted to accomplish. You just go up there and you’re like, ‘Is he hanging?'”

“So when I was walking back, that’s when you get to see it the second time, that’s when I wanted your reaction sitting down and it worked out.”

Admittedly though, he said that his right arm was sore the following day after the contest.

“I iced, I iced. The adrenaline got me through it. Once the adrenaline wore off that night, it got a little sore as you go to sleep.  When I woke up that morning, it was like a dead arm,” Carter said. 

He recovered quickly that day and was able to make his first All-Star game appearance in what would be a legendary career. –

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