The Mixtape King
For SLAM 104′s cover story, we re-watched Vince Carter’s amazing dunks with the man himself.
Raptors v. Celtics—Theoretically, at least, Walter McCarty is guarding Vince on the left wing. A quick shoulder fake ends that charade, and one dribble and two steps later, Wal-tuh is left reaching as Vince bangs over a retreating Raef LaFrentz. And one.
SLAM: Walter’s still checking his ankles.
Raptors v. Cavs—A one-on-none break. Vince catches a lead pass in stride, takes off two-footed about 10 feet out, and does a full rotation—spinning the wrong way—before sticking the one-handed jam.
VC: That’s the first time that I did that 360.
VC: Yeah. That was my first time ever doing it, right there.
Raptors v. Rockets—It’s 98-all, :04.4 on the clock. Vince is iso’d on Shandon Anderson at the left elbow extended. Hakeem Olajuwon is under the basket, just in case. Three seconds and a two-handed bang later, it’s 100-98.
SLAM: Game-winner, right?
VC: Yep. I was talking to Charles Oakley, who was sitting right here [Points to where Oak is standing at the corner of the Raptors’ bench, where Vince could see him from across the court as the play developed]. I was telling him to tell me when the clock was running down, when I should go. Shandon thought I was asking for a screen, so he thought I was going right. He jumped right and I went baseline. Dream didn’t have a shot.
SLAM: Not at this point in his career.
VC: He was still blocking shots, believe me. But he didn’t have a shot here.
Raptors v. Lakers—Vince brings it across midcourt, with that long stride again, the ball floating in front of him. John Celestand waits, then, as VC reaches the arc, the Laker guard lunges. Bait. Vince pulls out a right-to-left, through-the-leg crossover, takes one more dribble and skies uncontested for a tomahawk. The legendary Chick Hearn calls it: “Slaaaaam dunk. Oh, one of the greats of the year.” His partner, Stu Lantz, chimes in, “Well, I knew he was gonna posterize somebody.”
VC: Oh, yeah. John Celestand.
Raptors v. Warriors—A halfcourt set. Eye-contact between Oakley and Carter, who’s being guarded by his man Antawn Jamison. Vince breaks toward the rim, Oak lobs and AJ gets it on the head. He can’t say he wasn’t warned.
VC: That was on Antawn. I felt bad. I told him not to jump. I said, Tawn, don’t jump. He was like, “What?” I said, Do not jump. I was going for the lob. And he jumped. Happened twice that game. Tracy threw me a lob from halfcourt on his head, too.
SLAM: So Tawn was fronting you both times?
VC: Nah, the other time was in transition.
SLAM: Not much you can do then, I guess.
VC: Just get out the way.
Raptors v. Wizards—Transition in traffic. Vince puts the ball around his back just as Rod Strickland reaches in, never breaking stride on the way to a one-handed stuff.
VC: That opened SportsCenter.
SLAM: I think most of these probably opened SportsCenter. How often did you pull that one out?
VC: Hmm…every now and then. Strick is one of those guys, he’s gonna go for the steal, of course he’s not gonna be able to block it. I was trying to beat him to the spot, and he tried to cut me off, so I just put him on my back instead of doing the spin move.
Raptors v. Hawks—“Guarded” on the wing by some dude who should be glad we can’t recognize him, Vince goes baseline, then goes up, hanging just long enough to shit all over Dikembe Mutombo’s head.
SLAM: That’s disgusting. Deke’s been dunked on by a lot of guys, but he’s also blocked a million shots.
VC: In that game, he had blocked a couple of my dunks, you know, doing all that crap [wags his finger]. So coming down, once I got baseline, I was like, You’re not gonna block every one. I’m gonna get one before the game is over. This is my rookie year, so I’m tryin’ to dunk on the best. Actually, I dunked on him twice this game.
Raptors v. Pacers—Beating yet another overmatched perimeter defender (a late-in-his-career Chris Mullin in this case), Vince gets into the paint with ease. Rik Smits is closing from the other side of the basket, while Dale Davis drifts in from the middle of the paint. The answer? A two-handed reverse double pump. Obscene. (Slamadamonth, SLAM 34)
VC: This is the one…
SLAM: This is silly. How many times had you done that one?
VC: I’ve never done that in my life.
SLAM: Not in practice or anything?
VC: Some dunks you don’t practice. It’s just instinct. Whatever happens, happens. Originally I was just gonna do a reverse layup, but I was up high enough where I could do it, so, hey, why not? I remember talking to Dale later, and he was like, “I never expected you to do that.” I was like, Me neither.
2000 All-Star Dunk Contest—The elbow. The two-footed 180-windmill from underneath the basket. The 360 windmill. The T-Mac-assisted, through-the-legs windmill. Kenny Smith is still hoarse. It’s ov-ah! It’s ov-ah! (Slamadamonth, SLAM 42)
VC: I made all these up except for the one from underneath the basket. I’d never done any of these before.
USA v. France—Yeah, that one. Gary Payton misses a layup in traffic, and the rebound falls to a French player standing near the free-throw line. Sensing a teammate on the break, he throws a blind, behind-the-back pass, hoping to hit a teammate in stride. It almost works. Lurking near halfcourt, Vince intercepts about 28 feet from the basket. Building up steam before he even has the ball, he takes three quick dribbles, plants, and explodes about 10 feet from the rim. Freddie Weis stands between him and the goal, arms down, knees bent slightly, ready to take a charge. This proves to be a bad idea. Doug Collins’ commentary is almost as good as the actual dunk. (Slamadamonth, SLAM 47)
SLAM: You knew what you did at the time, right?
VC: Oh, yeah.
SLAM: How long did it take to come down from that feeling? Did that high last you a week or something?
VC: A week? Man, months and months and months [laughs].
SLAM: I think we called that the greatest dunk of all time.
VC: The reason I think people get so excited about it, it’s something you don’t see in a game. You might see it in a dunk contest or something. When I stole the ball, I was thinking, “Attack the rim.” I wasn’t thinking, “Jump over a 7-foot-2 dude.”