Prior to Carter’s arrival, Raptors games were such a tough sell even scalpers found it difficult to make anything off their tickets.
The Daytona Beach, Fla., native took the league by storm earning the nicknames “Half man, half amazing” and “Air Canada” for his electrifying dunks and high-flying acrobatics.
“When he was ‘Vinsanity,’ I was enjoying it as a fan like everyone else and noticing the talks amongst my friends in the classrooms — it was no longer about hockey, it was basketball now,” Menard said.
Carter’s performance at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on February 13, 2000 forever changed the landscape of Toronto and Canadian basketball’s reputation.
The burgeoning star opened the competition at Oracle Arena in Oakland with a 360 windmill dunk and later executed the iconic between the legs dunk off a bounce.
“Without that dunk competition, I don’t know if you have this type of effect [on Canadian basketball]. It was so important that he was wearing ‘Toronto’ across his chest for that dunk contest because it put the city on the map globally — he was representing our city,” Menard said.