The 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest was a defining moment for the Toronto Raptors. Vince Carter dominated the competition in one of the best contests of all-time.
The scene of the “crime” was Oakland Arena — Vince Carter stole the show.
The 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest was a defining moment not only for Carter but also the Raptors franchise, Toronto’s superstar was front and center, everybody in awe of Carter’s unparalleled athleticism. The entire world — slight exaggeration — watched as No.15 orchestrated one of the greatest slam dunk contest performances of all-time.
Most everyone points to Carter’s iconic between-the-legs dunk as the turning point of the contest. They would be correct, though the impact extended beyond the contest itself.
That dunk, void of props, changed people — no capes, phone booths, or Kia automobiles were used in the making of it. Even people outside of the NBA’s northern outpost still talk about it.
It put Toronto on the NBA map. The Six was suddenly home to the league’s undisputed most electrifying player.
(Sounds crazy, but there was a time when the basketball community collectively considered Vince Carter to be the next best thing to Michael Jordan. We’ve all learned a few things since then…)
Lost in Carter’s dunking dominance eighteen years ago, was the presence of Tracy McGrady, another young superstar in the making who also happened to play for Toronto. Two members of the franchise participating in what at the time was the must-see spectacle of All-Star weekend. If only they had stayed, one could safely assume the franchise would have a title, or perhaps two…
The likes of Ricky Davis, Larry Hughes, Steve Francis, and Raptor/905 alumnus, Jerry Stackhouse were also present but never really threatened Vince in the contest, serving more or less as necessary passengers in Carter’s runaway train show. I’m sure people at the time would’ve been totally fine with a solo-dunk contest featuring Vince, but it always helps to have competition.
The degree of difficulty on Carter’s dunks was profound — people forget about his two 360 jams, him narrowly foot-faulting on a free-throw line dunk (still impressive), and what about the one where he practically stuck his entire arm through the rim? (Still my personal favorite).
More impressive was he never once required multiple attempts for a dunk, nailing every one on the first attempt (he may have had a bad bounce on the through-the-legs dunk now that I think about it). Still, you get my point. Inexcusably, in years to follow, dunk attempts would start lasting longer than clear-path reviews.
It’s every Raptors fan’s dream that someday — hopefully soon — the team secures its first NBA championship. I’d be happy with a Finals appearance personally, though I’m fully aware that upon getting there, I’d immediately adopt a “MIGHT AS WELL WIN IT!” attitude.
The journey to a title is lengthy not to mention filled with obstacles and uncertainty. To ascend to the top takes years of hard work and quite frankly, a bit of luck in terms of avoiding injuries, etc.
The Toronto Raptors are close — the franchise has never been closer to a title than it is today. However, in the pursuit of the ultimate prize, we mustn’t discredit the (not so) little victories along the way…
…like the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest.
Checkout day nine of the 23 days of Toronto history tomorrow, when we take a look back at the franchise’s game five victory against the New York Knicks.