February 12, 2000, was the date of Vince Carter—the leading vote-getter in his first All-Star game—taking his next step approaching superstardom, rising through the air to dunk a basketball in the Slam Dunk Contest.
Before the event, his exceptional leaping ability and spectacular dunks brought him wide-spread popularity already. However, this was his first national TV (NBA On NBC) appearance.
2000 Slam Dunk Contest was the rebirth of the famous event which put on ice in 1998. The last winner was no other than rookie Kobe Bryant in Cleveland, 1997.
The 23-year-old phenomenon became league’s best player Shaquille O’Neal’s favorite, “My favorite player. Half-man, half-amazing.” From China to States, in one and a half seasons, he became the most famous NBA player in the world.
Shaq & Kevin Garnett were ready to record all Vince Carter dunks. But Carter had nothing scripted for the contest. (Shaq later recalled that he lost the videotape. Garnett still keeps his version of recording)
“I don’t want to plan them. I’ll just go according to how I’m feeling at that time. I don’t feel I have to do anything extra. It’s five dunks, and I’ll do five dunks that I have in my repertoire. If it wins, it wins. If not, I’m sorry I let everybody down, but I’m here to enjoy it and have fun.”
There was also a rule-change this time. Each dunker had a teammate assisting on at least one of their dunks in each of the two rounds. That’s were Tracy McGrady kicked in—Vince Carter’s cousin, and they stayed in the same crib in Toronto—T-Mac knew the winner days before because he witnessed all the dunks during Raptors practices.
- 1st dunk: a 360 Windmill (50 points) famous “Let’s go home ladies and gentlemen” dunk,
- 2nd dunk: a baseline windmill (49 points) Kenny Smith still owes Vince a point after the vote,
- 3rd dunk: this was impossible to beat. He took a bounce pass from his cousin T-Mac, brought the ball under his right leg, and slammed. The judges went nuts. Isiah Thomas jumped on the scoring table. (50 points),
- 4th dunk: a never seen rim hanger while driving the ball down. All the people and the judges started laughing how these dunks were ridiculous good (50 points),
- 5th dunk: he needed 42 points the victory and tried a free throw line dunk with two-handed. It was one and a half steps behind but enough to beat Steve Francis (48 points).
“It’s unbelievable. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m having trouble. I just remember back in the days when me and my friends used to tape the dunk contests and watch them over and over.”
Vince Carter gave Canada “a hope” that night. He made the country a more attractive destination for other players. Five years since the NBA expanded into Toronto and Vancouver, the most popular NBA player was playing in Canada. NBA had a hangover from Michael Jordan’s retirement, and Vince came at the right time.
The entire All-Star event in Oakland was the coming-out party for the new generation that’s finally arrived. Vince Carter was just one of the nine players who would be making their All-Star debuts. The list included scoring champ, Allen Iverson.