Vince Carter’s individual performance during the 2000 Dunk Contest will forever go down as the single most iconic. Between the effortlessness, putting his arm in the hoop, declaring it over, everything about his individual performance will make that undeniably the single greatest we’ll ever see. But it wasn’t much of a contest since Vince so thoroughly dominated the field. It was a one man show, and I’m not complaining about it, but Steve Frances, Larry Hughes, Ricky Davis, Jerry Stackhouse and Tracy McGrady weren’t able to be the 1B to Carter’s 1A like Aaron Gordon was to Zach LaVine.
No one was missing their attempts. This was a heavyweight fight going back and forth matching 50 with 50 after 50. And these weren’t weak ass “Hey that guy is really short just give him a 50″ 50s. These were legitimate 50s. Perfect dunks. A single slip up and either of these guys lose AND it ruins the tempo of the night. And it came in an era where the Dunk Contest had been deemed “dead” and filled with no names. Not a single person in that building was sitting after Gordon set off the final round and it got louder as the dunks came. LaVine windmilling and going through his legs from the free throw line, when most people have received 50s for merely dunking from the free throw line, was historic. Gordon putting his whole body over Puff the Magic dragon was iconic. Dikembe making this face has been a staple in internet reaction culture ever since.
Michael Jordan, Dr. J, Vince Carter, the list goes on and on for guys who had singularly iconic dunk contest moments and nights. But we have never experienced two guys going back and forth, dunk for dunk, 50 for 50, like we did three years ago today between Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine.