“For me, that was probably the greatest play in basketball I’ve ever seen,” Jason Kidd told ESPN after Team USA beat France at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. “Michael Jordan hasn’t done that. Nobody has done that. He’s the next coming of Vince Carter.”
It speaks volumes of Vince Carter’s legendary dunk over 7-foot-2 Frederic Weis that it elicited such a response from the United States’ point guard. Late September 2000 was the height of Vinsanity, mere months removed from basketball’s ultimate high-flier turning his mind-boggling physical gifts into full-fledged on-court dominance.
Carter averaged 25.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 1999-00, leading the Toronto Raptors to their first playoff berth in franchise history. He was the league’s top vote-getter for the All-Star Game, won the the weekend’s dunk contest with arguably the most memorable individual performance of all-time, and named All-NBA Third Team at the end of the year – all at the age of 23 and in just his second professional season.
Was Carter the heir apparent to Michael Jordan, the shining star who would single-handedly dunk the league through lockout-induced darkness? It was certainly easy to think so. When the first-time Olympian stole a wild outlet pass, took two power dribbles, and launched for what the French have deemed “le dunk de la mort,” though, even that possibility suddenly didn’t seem enough.
Carter never lived up to those incredibly lofty expectations, of course, but that doesn’t render Kidd’s sentiment any less accurate. He wasn’t anything close to the second-coming of Jordan, and not even a worthy long-time competitor to Kobe Bryant for the title of basketball’s best wing, either.
What Carter was during a several-year stretch around the new millennium, however, was a player unlike any the game had ever seen before – a reality forever cemented by what many will always consider the greatest dunk of all-time.