I haven’t checked the math on this yet, but I think I have it right — 60 percent of the NBA’s players weren’t even born when Vince Carter won the dunk contest back in 2000. Sure, all the little kids know about it thanks to YouTube and the DVD copy of “NBA Dunks Vol. 2″ that their dad gave them for their birthday, but as far as they know, he’s just an old bearded guy who’s the Mavs’ sixth man.
But even though us grownups have done an exemplary job of maintaining Vince’s legacy as one the league’s all-time best dunkers, even Ol’ Beardy himself admits that his time has passed. Passed so long ago, in fact, that he now prefers layups. From the New York Times:
Asked if dunking is as much fun as it looks, he grimaces. “Nowadays? I do it because I can, but sometimes, the landings suck. That takes the toll on your body. If it’s needed, it’s needed. But if I can make the two points by layup, I’m going to do that. You have to be smart about it.”
Smart isn’t always lauded in athletics, but Carter has learned the game lasts much longer than a dunk. “When you’re younger,” he said, “you don’t really care how you land when you come down.”
I’m not usually one to feel old when people are like “Well, now I feel old” because I am extremely young at heart, but Vince Carter saying he prefers layups because it hurts him to dunk is the kind of thing that can make even a baby feel like an old person (disclaimer: some babies legitimately look like old people, which might make this confusing). Obviously Vince’s rim-rockers are few and far between, which has been the case for a few years, but hearing that it physically hurts him is just wrong. Vince Carter should be able to do any dunk over anyone at anytime, from now until eternity. He’s earned it.
Then again, this is Vince Carter we’re talking about here. Pretty much everything hurts him. Dunking, yawning, really deep breaths, thinking too long about time travel paradoxes in famous time travel movies — you name it and Vince has suffered a sprain doing it then laid on the court for a few minutes rolling around like he just lost his legs. Sure, sometimes that leads to a dunk, but then that’s just another injury. It’s a vicious cycle.