In the greatest performance in dunk contest history, Vince Carter had jaws dropping in awe wearing a smaller brand.
For context, the NBA had cancelled the annual Slam Dunk Contest two years prior with the 1998 2Ball challenge replacing it. This shooting competition saw an NBA and WNBA player from the same city make a variety of shots for various amounts of points. 1999 saw the entire All-Star weekend erased due to the lockout, meaning rookies like Vince couldn’t show off their skills.
With the fans yearning for a good dunk contest, Carter was up first and eased his way into a 270 degree spinning windmill slam. This had a camcorder-wielding Shaquille O’Neal with his mouth agape from the jam. Random dudes in turtlenecks were flashing 10-signs in the crowd, as Kenny Smith uttered the famous words: “Let’s Go Home!” Dikembe Motombo and Kevin Garnett were in shock, while a befuddled Ray Allen fell on his back with his legs kicking up. This was all after just one dunk.
Vinsanity was running wild when Carter performed the same dunk, except under the rim. For dunk number three, cousin and fellow Toronto Raptor teammate Tracy McGrady stood under the rim with a high bounce pass up. Vince collected the ball and went between his legs before windmilling the rock with his right hand. Carter iconically pointed both fingers to the sky before staring down the camera and mouthing “it’s over.” Half-Man, Half-Amazing finished off his set of dunks with a cookie-jar elbow dunk that put the finishing touches on the GOAT performance.
The iconic showcase saw an unusual choice of footwear, as Vince rocked the AND1 Tai Chi for all four dunks. Carter was technically still under contract with Puma at the time, but refused to wear the brand over comfort issues. His agent got him out of the deal after the season, but Carter had to alternate between sneaker brands every few games for that season. AND1 was a streetball brand only at the time, and they sent Carter shoes in hopes of greater exposure.
For reasons known to Carter only, he chose to rock the AND1 Tai Chi for this iconic moment. Premium leather is used on the upper, something standard during the era of basketball shoes. A chrome shank plate adds stability to the midfoot. Soft EVA foam is used in the midsole while the strobel and insole offer additional cushioning.
You can find Vince Carter’s AND1 Tai Chi shoes at StockX.
Cover image via NBA All-Star (Twitter)