The Greatest Dunk of All Times.
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It was the greatest dunk of all time. Put it in the books, write it down, tell a friend - whatever you need to do - just know that it was the best ever. Last summer at Gauchos gym in the Bronx, Vince Carter threw down an alley-oop flush that was so nasty it literally stopped a game. The dunk was so otherworldly that fans in the packed house spewed onto the court, gyrating, jumping, screaming, overcome by what they had just witnessed. |
It went down in a Rucker Park Summer League game that started outside on the blacktop, but then had to be moved indoors to Gauchos when an unexpected rainstorm crept up on the city.
"That day, God blessed us," says Greg Marius, Director of the Entertainers Basketball League in Harlem and an eyewitness. "We were forced to go indoors because of the rain, so he was going to make it up to us - in the form of Vince Carter.
"Vince was doing a photo shoot for The Source Sports. He called down and asked if he could play. Luckily, there was room for him on one of the teams, so he came down."
It's not uncommon for NBA players, especially those who grew up outside of New York City, to pop in on the Rucker League during the summer. Even NBA All-Stars feel like they haven't proven themselves until they strut their stuff in Harlem.
On this day, VC showed up fashionably late, well into the first half, and his arrival sent whispers and murmurs through the crowd.
"Suddenly, there was a buzz," remembers Rob Glazer, another witness. "Everybody looks back and there's Vince Carter coming into the gym. Somebody threw him a jersey and he checked into the game. Everybody was like 'What's he going to do?' Down here, a jumper, a layup, those things just aren't good enough. You've got to put on a show."
Within minutes of entering the game, Vince squared off with a local playground gunner named Adrian Walton, who at the time was going by the name of "Wholelottagame."
"I had heard that Vince might be coming down," says Walton. "To be honest, I didn't want him to play. I thought I was ready to hang with big-time players, but I didn't know if I was ready for him.
"Luckily, I came out and just started hitting all of my shots," says Walton. "We really started going back and forth. When his team was on offense, the crowd wanted Vince to get the ball. When were on offense, the crowd was cheering for me to get the ball.
"After I started making shots, I was like 'You don't want to guard me. You don't think I can shoot, but you better guard up,' and he would come back with 'I have to guard you, I've heard all about you. I'm gonna make you better."
"Those two were going at it," said Fred Neal, a coach at Gauchos. "Adrian was not backing down from anybody, including Vince Carter."
The two locked up, trading buckets, their personal battle inciting the crowd. For starters, Vince and Adrian traded jumpers, each sticking j's in the other's eye, steadily moving further and further away from the rim with each successive shot.
"Wholelotta took it to him," Marius said. "This kid's like 18-years-old, and he comes out and hits a three on Vince. The crowd starts getting more into it, and then these two go back and forth like four times. This was something that Wholelotta had been waiting for for like five years. He was just dying to get on the team, dying to make a name for himself, and here he was doing just that."
Riled to a frenzy, the crowd ready to bust, Vince provided the final blow. His team grabbed a defensive board, and Half-Man took off down the court with his graceful gazelle-like lopes. An outlet pass brought the rock to half-court, and Vince's teammate lofted an oop square to the heavens from just inside the center line.
Then he elevated some more.
Ripping the pill out of the air around chest-level, Vince's shoulders hovered by the rim. He swung the ball down, by and through his waist and then whipped it back up and around his head, all in the blink of an eye. All the while, Half-Man's shoulders were still up by the rim.
Then he hammered it through, with the thunder of the gods, Vince Carter windmill style.
When he finally came back to earth, glaring triumphantly up at the stands, he motioned like a baseball umpire signaling "safe," as if to let the crowd know that was it. It was over. You are never gonna see another throw down like that ever again - not on this planet at least.
"It looked like even Vince himself was a little shaken by what he had just done," Glazer said.
"It was the most incredible dunk I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot in my time here," says Neal. "He brought it up, brought it down and then windmill dunked it. People just started running around, it was so crazy. It was the best ever in that gym, and there have been a lot of good ones. Think about all the guys who've played here - Stephon, Jamal Mashburn, Felipe, Kenny Anderson - and that was the best. The most unbelievable thing I've ever seen."
Says Tommy Swinton, Athletic Director for the Gauchos and another eyewitness to The Dunk, says: "I've been watching streetball for 24 years. I've seen The Goat, Pee-Wee Kirkland and the Doctor, and I've seen a lot of guys who could jump. No one, and I mean no one, has ever stayed in the air as long as Vince did. I've never seen anyone dunk a ball like that. We still always talk about it, all the time, even though it happened last year. You are never going to see anything better than that, at least not in our lifetimes."
"Oh my God," marvels Wholelottagame, "I've never seen anybody get up like that. The way he adjusted in the air, the coordination something like that takes - it's ridiculous. My mouth was wide open. I mean, I think that for a six-foot guy, I've had some pretty good dunks, but this thing just made mine look terrible.
"I had more points than Vince Carter, so I won the battle, but Vince; Vince won the war."
Before Vince could even get back to mid-court, he was completely engulfed by fans. Game over. Vince had touched them on the forehead like a TV evangelist, and they fell to the ground, alive with the spirit. They mobbed the man, just to be near him, to touch the ballplayer who had just kissed the sky. Madness. All complements of Vince Carter and the greatest dunk ever.
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