On September 25th of 2000, the greatest dunk of all-time happened. But, most of the world didn’t know it happened until the next morning. Here’s the story behind the first “viral” basketball clip.
Everybody knows about Vince Carter’s infamous Lipton dunk over 7’2″ Fred Weis now, but when it happened, nobody in the United States did. That’s hard to believe considering we now live in a social media world where a dunk can go viral and accumulate millions of views, likes, shares, and retweets just minutes after it happens. But this was long before Vine, Instagram, Twitter, even YouTube and before the Olympics were shown on a bunch of channels. Back then, NBC, who had exclusive rights to Olympic footage, had to pick and choose what was being shown and what would have to be shown the next day as a delayed aired event. The Team USA game vs France was picked as one of those delayed events.
Oblivious to the results of the game, I woke up early the morning after and turned on the local Houston NBC news to see how bad my morning commute was going to be. They ended up showing the dunk as the Highlight of the Day and I was lucky enough to have a VCR ready to record (back then having an empty vhs tape in the VCR ready for highlights was a must).
I taped the local news segment and posted it in on a website I was running called Gotvinsanity.com and within an hour, HoopsTV.com (the coolest basketball site at that time) posted a link to my site. The next thing I knew, the footage was on P2P networks (Kazaa anybody?) and going viral on message boards and chat rooms. TV producer/journalist Greg Tanner, the pioneer running the awesome Streetball.co.uk back then, told me he posted my clip on Streetball and it crashed the site after tens of thousands of people tried to download it.
Next thing I knew, the IOC (Olympic Committee) was sending me a cease and desist letter basically saying we have a big ass deal worth millions with NBC and if you don’t take this clip off your tiny ass site we will sue your ass.
I was allowed to keep the images up on the site as long as I credited the IOC (above) but the video had to go.
Within a year, the footage, including newer and better angles, was everywhere. And by the time YouTube came around, it was a pointless battle for them to try to remove the footage.
Here we are on the 16th anniversary of the dunk and I can freely post as many videos of this dunk as I want and not have to worry about a phone call from the IOC. I also don’t have to worry about my wife accidentally taping over my Michael Jordan games with the latest episodes of Party of Five (although I still have a crush on Jennifer Love Hewitt).
I also had the honor of interviewing Gary Payton today and when I showed him the following image, he yelled “The Dunk” and said it was “the best dunk he’s ever seen.”
VINCE TALKS ABOUT THE DUNK
“Once I took off, I just remember touching his shoulder. After that, I didn’t know what happened.”
(Shout out to MaxaMillion711!)
IN EVERY LANGUAGE
THE DUNK OF DEATH