With less than 20 seconds left in the OT game between the Atlanta Hawks and the New York Knicks last March 12, 2020, Vince Carter checked into the game. He took a hand off from Trae Young and drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key.
After that the buzzer sounded, both for that game and for the on-going season.
With the NBA season in limbo, that might have been VC’s last game in the league. Or, he could be back, dunking like he always has been, when the season resumes.
Either way, it feels like a good time to celebrate a full career from Half-Man, Half-Amazing.
Poster dunks are the ultimate form of disrespect in basketball. It’s a show of a player’s natural talent and athleticism. A poster dunk is a proverbial (and sometimes literal) flex on an opponent silly enough to get in the way.
A player that’s made a living off of posterizing the living hell out of his opponents is Vince Carter. Considered one of the greatest — if not the greatest — dunkers of all time, Vinsanity was a monster on the court. His opponents usually got out of the way whenever he took off. The poor souls who did try to contest him were met with a vicious assault at the rim, ending up on the wrong end of an awesome poster on someone’s wall.
But one dunk, in particular, stood out the most. Out of all of Carter’s displays of raw athleticism, this dunk showcased the personality, style, and power Vinsanity possessed during his prime. This was a dunk that was so brutal, it earned itself a morbid nickname.
“Le Dunk de la Morte”. The Dunk of Death.
I first read about this dunk in 2015, when I was just starting to dive into the rich history of NBA basketball. I honestly couldn’t believe what I was reading at that time. It was like something straight out of an exaggerated basketball anime. I also couldn’t believe that I didn’t stumble upon an amazing dunk like that earlier in my life.
For those who may not be familiar with the Dunk of Death, the most matter-of-fact description of the dunk is that basically, Vince Carter dunked over a seven-footer.
Yes. Dunked OVER. He literally jumped and went over the poor guy’s head. Not dunked ON, like most poster dunks you’d see. Over. If that wasn’t incredible enough, he did it during live game, in front of thousands of fans in the arena. Carter, an absolute madman, jumped over Frederic Weis, a seven-foot center. Oh. And he did it in the Olympics, with the entire world watching.
Dunking over people isn’t something unheard of in basketball. Even dunking over seven-footers isn’t as uncommon as others may think it is. We’ve seen it been done in multiple dunk contests during All-Star Weekend. Just recently, Aaron Gordon dunked over the tallest player in the league today, Tacko Fall, during this year’s Dunk Contest. But back then, no one had ever dunked over a seven-foot player during a live match. Just thinking about attempting something like that is crazy. Most players wouldn’t even dream of trying that out during an actual game.
Vinsanity, like his nickname suggests, isn’t “most players”. He didn’t allow himself to be bound to the confines of what is normal for most people. Carter had a fearlessness that allowed him to try out the craziest shit, even ones that he himself hasn’t done before.
The best part about the Dunk of Death is that it wasn’t planned at all. Carter basically improvised what is perhaps the greatest dunk of all time. It was pure instinct on his part. After stealing the ball near half court, he quickly made a move towards the hoop. Weis tried to get in the way so Carter had no choice but to jump up until he was literally leaping over Weis. He didn’t think, “Oh, I’ll try dunking over someone today.” coming into the game. The opportunity presented itself and Carter just went and did it.
That audacity, that sheer boldness, bordering on insanity, is why fans around the world love Vince Carter. There was nearly nothing the he wouldn’t try and do on court. Between the legs? Easy. Reach into the rim? Why not? Jump over a seven-footer? Sure.
Whenever Carter stepped foot on the court, everyone knew that he was going to put on a show. There was no one who would deny him an opportunity to show the whole world why he was one of the best players on the planet. Carter is an artist. The ball is his paintbrush and the hoop is his canvas. And Weis was the subject of Vinsanity’s magnum opus, the best work of his entire career.
This dunk is the perfect representation of who Vince Carter is. He’s an electric showman, always ready to give the audience something they’ll never forget. He’s a master improviser, pulling out tricks from his bag even while hanging mid air.
That dunk on Weis was a message to the entire basketball world. No matter who you were, no matter how tall you were, if you valued your life and your dignity, you should never get up and challenge Vinsanity. Or else you just might end up in the next Le Dunk de la Morte.