It’s arguably the greatest highlight in basketball history. No matter when you saw it — be it live or on delay — it invoked pure shock, disbelief and amazement.
Most of us only know of Frederic Weis because of the play. And as for Vince Carter, it only added to the madness that was Vinsanity.
By the end of Carter’s first season in the NBA, he had won the Rookie of the Year and become must-see TV for any Canadian basketball fan. The city responded to him and he was quickly becoming one of the most popular athletes in the country — though he was Canada’s little secret at the time.
Midway through his second season with the club, Carter was now a SportsCenter darling in the United States, leading him to garner the most votes for the 2000 NBA All-Star Game in Oakland.
Anyone who was living under a rock to that point of Carter’s career quickly became aware of his ability to suck the gravity out of arenas. That night Vinsanity was born. Vince turned All-Star Weekend into a springboard for a Raptors playoff push which led to the team’s first-ever playoff appearance.
Standing in their way in the first round were the veteran-laden New York Knicks, who made short work of the Raptors, sweeping them 3-0 in their best of five series.
The media attacked Carter, questioning whether or not he would be able to lead a team in the playoffs; if he could become the closer the franchise needed.
If the media attacks weren’t enough, Carter also had to deal with a scandal surrounding his agent at the time, the firing of his coach and mentor, and the departure of his cousin Tracy McGrady, who chose to sign with the Orlando Magic following rumours that he didn’t want to share the spotlight with Carter.
The 2000 Olympics couldn’t come soon enough for VC, as he left all the drama behind him and escaped to Australia with Team USA. With a new hairstyle and bolder attitude, Carter ran Sydney like a man possessed.
Then it happened. In the second half of a blowout game against France, Carter took off as if he had bounced off a “Slam Ball” trampoline and detonated on Weis, who stood at 7-foot-2. After the dunk, you could hear Carter’s screams all throughout the basketball world, likely releasing all the stress he had been hanging onto throughout the grueling and emotional summer.
Future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett celebrated as if he had thrown it down himself. Newly minted Hall of Famer Jason Kidd said the dunk was “one of the best plays I’ve ever seen.” The French media called it “The Dunk of Death.”
Carter went on to give us more incredible highlights after that play, but none will be as awe-inspiring, none will be as unbelievable. Even watching it today, it still boggles the mind.
Now that Carter’s playing career has come to an end, let’s take time today to remember just how special Vinsanity truly was.