When I attended the Rockets and Mavs game in Houston a couple of weeks ago, I started to reflect on my history with the man that I consider the greatest game and contest dunker of all-time: Vincent Lamar Carter.
I started following Carter during his sophomore year in high school when he was playing at Mainland High in Daytona Beach and I, same age as Vince, was 40 minutes south in the tiny town of Titusville (mostly now known as the home of my friend, the comedian, and big-time basketball fan Daniel Tosh). Vince’s above the rim game was local news in all the counties around Daytona Beach and even Slam Magazine picked up on it during his senior year when they wrote an article about the skinny baller that had a 15 block game and was throwing down dunks that he once told Kenny Smith during his rookie season was better than the dunks he was doing in the NBA. The dunks were so great, the Mainland High VHS tape of Vince Carter was nicknamed “Come Fly With Me Part 2.”
After our senior years, I was heading to FSU and there were rumors (and controversial rumors) of Vince staying in Florida and becoming a Gator or a Seminole. He would make the wise decision and follow in the footsteps of the original Come Fly With Me star and attend North Carolina.
In 1995, the two things I looked most forward to recording on EP VHS tapes were Penny Hardaway in Orlando highlights and reverse alley-oops and windmill dunks from the freshman Vince Carter at UNC.
The dunks Carter was throwing down back then was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in the college game and that includes the Fab Five and the Runnin’ Rebels with LJ and Plastic Man. Unfortunately for me, one dunk that I didn’t get to witness was the one that happened with less than a minute left in a game against my Seminoles.
The Tarheels were beating the tar off my team so my friend and I decided to leave with a minute left in the game. As we were walking out of the stadium we heard a huge roar. When I got home, I had to sit through hours of Sportscenter (this is before internet clips and news tickers letting you know what’s coming on next) to find out what I missed and what I missed was a sick reverse dunk by Carter.
Many semesters later, in 1998, Vince was leaving UNC for the NBA and I was entering my graduate program where I learned how to make websites and edit digital videos. I made a bunch of really stupid websites at first, including a No Limit fansite and site dedicated to the Lakers Championship Season in 98 (I was 1 year too early). But what turned out to be my most popular was a site called GotVinsanity.
If I was smarter back then, I would have trademarked the use of Vinsanity since back then most people, including ESPN, were spelling Vinsanity this way: Vince-sanity. If I would have done that, then I’m sure it would have just created some additional drama for myself. Although the site — full of 5- second Quicktime clips around 320 x 240 in size — gained a cult following and was recognized by Sports Illustrated, it was also hated by a few, including his official site VinceCarter15.com. The marketing people behind the official site wanted me to shut it down and even his high school coach wanted me to remove certain elements from the site….or give a specific somebody lots of credit which I didn’t do.
As the years went by, Vince’s dunks, game winners and popularity became bigger, the site became more advanced (I created a supplement CD-Rom that I mailed to visitors so they could interact with the site and access an archive of video footage), the videos became clearer and bigger and then came the biggest moment during the Olympics.
Everybody knows about the Lipton dunk now but when it happened nobody saw it live. This was long before the Olympics was shown on a bunch of channels so ABC, 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. That game vs France would not air until the next afternoon but that morning, during the 6 AM local Houston ABC news, they decided to show the dunk and I was lucky enough to have a VCR ready to record. I taped the local news segment and posted it in on Gotvinsanity and within an hour HoopsTV.com (the coolest basketball site at that time) posted a link to my site and the next thing I knew the footage went viral and the IOC (Olympic Committee) was sending me a cease and desist letter basically saying we have a big ass deal worth millions with ABC and if you don’t take this clip off your tiny ass site we will sue your ass. I took it down but within a year, the footage, including newer and better angles, was everywhere. An by the time YouTube came around, it was a pointless battle for them to try to remove the footage.
Despite a few setbacks and hurdles. I loved running the website. I loved giving out tickets to his annual charity games. I loved giving people rare footage such as his complete game at Rucker Park. I loved running contests and giving out rookie cards to winners. But as other aspects of my life (different jobs, marriage, kids, etc) took over every spare minute I had for the next decade, I had to shut down and kill Gotvinsanity.com. As many of these same aspects entered Carter’s life, Vinsanity seemed to die with it. It sounds unfair, considering Vince had some spectacular seasons in New Jersey and threw down some of his most known dunks during his time there but the Vinsanity phenomenon just wasn’t the same as it was during his first couple of seasons in Toronto when he was the leading All-Star vote-getter year. And it definitely wasn’t the same when his journey took him to Orlando, Phoenix and Dallas.
What’s really unfair is that every time Vince threw down a dunk for the Magic, Suns or Mavs, people would make comments referencing Vinsanity or the vintage Vince that jumped over the guy in the Olympics or gave us the best dunk contest performance of all-time but nobody really noted that he consistently gave us these reminders season after season, team after team, year after year. Obviously a player in his mid to late 30’s isn’t going to jump the way he did when he was in his late teens or when he was old enough to buy his first legal drink but considering his age and the miles on his body, Vince Carter is just as impressive to me today as he was when he entered the league.
So here we are, today, 2014, this season with Mavs, and if you have been following Vince closely then you might have noticed the 360 dunk during pre-game shootaround, the between the leg teases after the whistle, the baseline 2 hand dunk vs the Suns, the reverse vs the Bucks, the oops vs the Hawks (don’t worry all of these clips are posted below) and then there was the baseline reverse dunk that I was lucky enough to witness almost 17 years after missing his dunk back in college.
GotVinsanity.com might be dead but I still got Vinsanity because at 36, Vince Carter is alive and doing more than well.
FYI: Some people think I call myself Vincent Da because of Vince Carter but Vincent is my middle name and DA stands for David Astramskas and believe it or not, considering the amount of NBA players that I have met and worked with over the years and my involvement with dunk contests and the dunk community over the past decade, it’s kind of ironic that I have never met Vince Carter in person. Maybe one day before Vinsanity really dies.
LAST THING I PROMISE: I know this post is becoming a longer journey than Vince Carter’s career but I wanted to give a shout-out to a couple of people that I met during this journey. I know Ballislife and Hoopsmixtape are supposed to be “enemies” but the founder of HMT was one of the first fans of Gotvinsanity.com back in 2000 when he was going by the name of SundazeFosho. Nilz/Sundaze/HMT also gave me a UNC DVD with some rare Carter footage years later. The other person that deserves a shout out is a guy named Max Fishberg. I know he sounds like a guy that might be handling your finances but Max, better known to the YouTube world as Maxamillion711, is the handler of the most Vince Carter footage on the web. A few years ago, I contributed to his collection by supplying him with sshoeboxes full of VHS tapes and in return, he digitized all the analog footage for me. A lot of that footage can be found on his channel and the VC15 Encyclopedia page.