February 16, 2013
HOUSTON - When NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest participant Eric Bledsoe was asked about his favorite dunk contest dunk he didn't hesitate.
"I think that dunk contest where Vince Carter did the 360," Bledsoe said.
That same answer came up over and over with young players - to them the legend of Michael Jordan or Dominique Wilkins dunks were something they saw on YouTube. Vince Carter was the guy they grew up watching and being amazed by.
"To be honest, I don't think nobody here (in the BBVA Rising Stars challenge, the rookie/sophomore game) saw Michael like that because we were all born in the 1990s," said Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson. "We were too young to watch him on TV.
"For me personally it was Vince Carter, me being from Toronto, Canada. Vinsanity was my Michael Jordan. I looked up to him."
And as it was for Kobe Bryant growing up idolizing Jordan and then getting to play against him, Thompson and this generation now get to face and older but still dangerous Carter on the court, just now with the Mavericks.
Thompson has a special connection with his idol.
"I actually went to his camp when I was younger, so he remembered me from when I was in ninth grade," Thompson said. "So he and I chit-chatted and had a couple jokes. But Vince was one of the great players for (Toronto) and one of the great players of this league."