On the eve of the 65th NBA All-Star Game, we are getting close to seeing an NBA legend for the last time in an All-Star game, Kobe Bryant. This year’s NBA All-Star game is coming from the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, which has me remembering another NBA legend, Vince Carter. Mr. Air Canada himself. Half-man, half-amazing, or also known as the craze he created in Toronto, simply put, it was Vinsanity.
Vince grew up in Daytona Beach and played college ball for nearby North Carolina. He played three seasons with the Tar Heels, culminating with a Final Four run in 1998. In his three years at North Carolina he played along side other Tar Heel greats such as Antawn Jamison, Jeff McInnis, Dante Calabria, Shammond Williams, Serge Zwikker, Ed Cota and Brendan Haywood.
The 1998 NBA Draft held a couple of ironic twists for Vince Carter. The first being that the draft was held in Canada that year. The second was that his Tar Heel teammate, Antawn Jamison, was drafted one spot ahead of him at 4th overall by Toronto. Golden State would select Vince with the 5th overall pick, then deal him to Toronto, for Antawn Jamison. Vince would play the first six years of his NBA career in Toronto and arguably be the most electrifying player in the league. He would also be joining his cousin, Tracy McGrady, who was drafted by Toronto the year before and was also setting the league on fire.
Vince was an all around talent, and bona fide NBA All-Star averaging 23.4 ppg in his six plus seasons with Toronto. But it was his super-human leaping ability that made him a must see show, and a regular on SportsCenter Top 10. Another interesting twist for Vince is that Kobe Bryant won the dunk contest in 1997, setting up what could-have-been an epic dunk contest in 1998 featuring Kobe and Vince. The NBA, however, replaced the dunk contest in 1998 with the WNBA/NBA 2Ball Competition. The following year would also be absent of a dunk contest because of the strike shortened season. So Vince had to wait until the new millennium to claim his title as dunk king, but once finally given the opportunity to shine, did he ever reign supreme…
Vince not only had the amazing leaping ability and creativeness born for dunk contests, he was also, in my opinion, the most amazing in-game dunker to ever play in the league. One of the dunks he is most famous for is when he dunked over 7’2 French center Frederic Weis in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It was the type of moment that if happened in today’s world of DVR, you would have to rewind it 80 times because you would not have believed what you just saw. But Toronto Raptors games in the late 90’s and 2000’s were full of those types of amazing highlights. It grew into a new NBA culture known as Vinsanity.
While that type of athleticism and leaping ability is usually not sustainable, for the most part, Vince did it for years and can still throw down the hammer every once in-a-while. He is in his 18th season and now plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Here is a look back at some the most awesome moments from the Vinsanity era, courtesy of the NBA YouTube Channel…
The NBA dunk contest will be held tonight, Saturday February 13th, at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Here are the competitors for the 2016 NBA Dunk Contest:
- Zach LeVine-Minnesota Timberwolves (Defending Champion)
- Will Barton-Denver Nuggets
- Andre Drummond-Detroit Pistons
- Aaron Gordon-Orlando Magic
Rules for tonight’s dunk contest-
Each participant will get two dunks in the first round, with no time limit to complete them but a maximum of three tries.
The two players with the highest score will advance to the final round, where they will perform two more dunks.
The one with the highest combined score will be crowned as the winner.
The 2016 NBA Dunk contest will be live on TNT at approximately 8:30 ET.
Brandon Reid covers the NBA for MyFantasySportsTalk.com, you can follow him on Twitter @New_Breid
He is from Memphis and graduated from Arkansas State University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He loves the Memphis Tigers, Grizzlies, Titans, and Arkansas State Red Wolves.
“I promise to bring information, insight, and strong opinion. Let the debate begin.”
You can follow Brandon on Twitter @New_Breid