I’VE always been partial to dunkers. Growing up, the NBA games on TV often featured the showtime Lakers of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar against the Larry Bird led- Boston Celtics numerous times.
But every time Julius Erving and his Philadelphia 76ers played, I was mesmerized and often waited breathlessly for him to unleash one of his patented rim-rattlers.
Another one of my favorite players of all time is the human highlight film-Dominique Wilkins, winner of two dunk contests and in his time, the greatest in-game dunker.
Ergo, it’s a no-brainer that I also naturally gravitated towards Michael Jordan who practically made the dunk his calling card when he was a young Bull.
VINSANITY. And so it is with much regret that we see the untimely retirement of Vince Carter, arguably the greatest dunker of all time—even greater than the aforementioned three, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
And what a ride it has been. Twenty-two years of highlights and spectacular plays.
He began his career with the Toronto Raptors, where he blossomed into a superstar. In 2005 he went to play for the New Jersey Nets for four seasons. Then he became a journeyman, playing for the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and finally, the Atlanta Hawks.
Young NBA fans may not remember this, but there was a time when he was touted as the next Michael Jordan with his freakish athleticism and electrifying presence on the court.
In his prime he averaged 27.5 points per game. The problem was that Vince never got to be paired with other top-tier players that would have complemented his game and made the team strong enough to be a title contender.
As he got older and his athleticism waned, Vince adapted and developed to be marksman for crucial three-point shots to be knocked down, especially during his time with the Mavericks.
Never afraid of the spotlight and the moment, Vince had ice water running through his veins and would coolly and calmly drain the long three when his team needed one to win. He was a career 38 percent from the rainbow territory.
Of course, he will be remembered more for his acrobatic, gravity-defying dunks. He will forever be immortalized by what is referred to as the dunk of death—a dunk Carter made over a standing Fredric Weiss, a French national team player who stood 7 feet 2 inches tall during a game at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Thanks for the dunking memories, Vince. You were indeed half-man, half-amazing.
VERBATIM. “I saw him, but I didn’t really see him.”—Vince Carter on seeing Weiss standing in his way while executing the dunk of death.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my kumpare, the ultra-talented Stephen Villamor, who recently celebrated his birthday. Cheers!