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  Fri, February 13, 2004


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Vince as dunking judge

By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

SEATTLE -- It takes a special dunk to impress a champion dunker.

When the Raptors' Vince Carter watches the NBA slam-dunk competition tomorrow night in Los Angeles, he may be bored or he may be enthralled. Carter, who won the contest in spectacular fashion in 2000, was asked yesterday what would impress him if he were a judge.

"There are a lot of guys who have athleticism but their dunks aren't necessarily that hard," said Carter, who will play in the all-star game on Sunday. "Sometimes guys can make dunks look harder than they actually are, too, and if you do that it really helps. But it's hard to actually say what would impress me unless I'm actually watching the dunks, because it's tough to imagine them.

"Like if somebody takes off outside the box, one hand, no big deal. But if he does it backward, that would be something. I would just look for something original with some difficulty. Kind of like swimming, same criteria."

We're assuming Carter meant synchronized swimming, or maybe diving. But it's his use of the term "original" that is intriguing, since some observers wonder if originality even is possible anymore when it comes to dunking a basketball.

Carter single-handedly revived the dunk contest four years ago with a truly original performance, but it turned out to be a one-year renaissance. Since then, Carter has not participated and the competition has failed to capture the imagination of the sporting public, despite impressive showings by two-time defending champion Jason Richardson of the Golden State Warriors, who tomorrow will be going for the unprecedented three-peat.

The NBA finally got tired of begging established stars such as Carter and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers to enter the dunk contest, so this season the league cut its losses and limited the event to players with three years of experience or fewer. Last fall Carter expressed mild interest in rejoining the fray, but a recent hamstring injury would have given him an excuse to opt out again. Either way, the league ultimately took the decision out of his hands.

But even though Carter won't be out there tomorrow, he still believes it's possible for someone to wow the world.

"Everybody can come up with something," said Carter, whose Raptors faced the Seattle SuperSonics late last night on the West Coast. "There are so many things. But the unfortunate thing about dunking -- and I can't speak for everyone, I'm just speaking for myself -- is that when people work on their games, they try to think of new moves or whatever, but dunking, I don't think people do that. I don't know if they do, but I know I don't. It's not like I'm sitting at home thinking, 'Hmmm, I'm going to try that dunk now.'

"My friends, on the other hand, are always calling me or coming up to me and saying, 'Hey, I just thought of this new dunk, you should try this.' Alvin (Williams, Raptors guard) always comes up with new dunks and things like that."

Alvin should just do the damn dunks himself, right Vince?

"Yeah, exactly," Carter agreed.

Nonetheless, Carter knows for a fact there still are some dunks that would get people's attention, because he has tried a few in the privacy of the practice gym.

"I know it's to the point that we can sit here and ask ourselves, 'What possibly could you do that would be new?' " Carter said. "But there are a couple I have in my repertoire that I think I can do and I've never seen done.

"So yeah, there are some out there. But are you courageous enough to try it? That's the question."

We'll find out tomorrow if this year's dunkers have courage, or if they're just a bunch of cowardly lions.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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