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The last time the NBA Slam Dunk Contest disappeared, Vince Carter brought it back in style

2021 won’t have Vince Carter or a Dunk Contest, so here’s Vince Carter saving the Dunk Contest.

I’m thinking about Vince Carter because of two entities which will be absent from the upcoming NBA season. This is the first season in decades that won’t have a Slam Dunk Contest. The NBA removed the contest from All-Star programming in 1998, then didn’t have an All-Star Weekend at all in 1999 because of the lockout. If there is a 2020-2021 NBA season (who really knows), it won’t include any All-Star events at all.

This is also the first NBA season in decades without Vince Carter. After a record-setting 22 seasons, Vince finally announced his retirement in 2020, at the age of 43.

There’s some poetry to that, because the last time the Slam Dunk Contest disappeared, Carter’s arrival saved it. This 2019 episode of Rewinder gets into the history of the contest, its gradual demise as stars got bored with the showcase, and the massive dose of creativity and star power injected by Vince and his cohort of young 2000 dunkers.

Your TV screen will lack some familiar NBA fun this season, so here’s 15 minutes of the good old stuff.