vince carter

Originally published in SLAM 174

In the year 2000, Vince Carter all but retired the slam dunk as a form of basketball expression. From his event-destroying performance at the Slam Dunk Contest to destroying Frederic Weis in the Sydney Olympics, Carter’s dunks literally spanned the calendar and the globe.

Any young player watching had to be simultaneously awed and relieved—surely Carter couldn’t do this for another decade or more. By 2010, VC would be ensconsed in three-point shooting semi-retirement. Right?

For a while, that did seem to be the plan. Carter took more jumpers from deeper and deeper, only breaking out the hops when absolutely necessary, whether to get to the rim or deliver a reminder of who he still was, on some “I’M VINCE CARTER, BITCH!” But somehow he never settled into a full-fledged old-man game. He still had those moments when he became NBA Photo’s lead entry for “dunk.” Like this one, when Jordan Hill was late on the help. For Vince, seeing pics like this probably remind himself of 2000. Come to think of it, Hill, too—back when he was 13.

Russ Bengtson