Carter slam dunks the globe
Of those athletes connected with Canada
none stands out as much as Raptors' star
Tuesday, December 26, 2000
Vince Carter did not need to stand on the shoulders of a giant to get to the top -- but he certainly enjoyed the view up there, and the sports world enjoyed the show.
The most famous basketball dunk of the year happened at the Sydney Olympics, when the Toronto Raptors' star went up, and over 7-foot-2 Frenchman Frederic Weis on the way to Olympic gold.
Carter did that wearing the red-white-blue of Team USA, but his Canadian connection puts him atop The Globe and Mail's list of 10 athletes who made an impact in 2000.
Of all the athletes representing Canada or playing for teams based here, none stands out like Carter, arguably the best and most exciting player in a sport that is played worldwide. He makes the National Basketball Association work in Toronto. He sells tickets across the entire continent as the marquee player of a major professional sport. His mass-media coming out was as winner of the NBA slam-dunk spectacle last February. He then led the Raptors into the playoffs for the first time in their history. He climbed Mount Fred to get Olympic gold. And now he's recognized around the world.
It's not just Toronto myopia that puts Carter at the head of the class. He's in lock-step with Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant as the best product of the NBA's new generation, rivals for the throne vacated by Michael Jordan.
The Raptor guard is the leading vote-getter for this season's NBA all-star game in votes cast by fans at NBA arenas, internationally via the Internet, and in movie theatres throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The game will take place Feb. 11 in Washington, D.C., and will be broadcast in more than 200 countries.
Voting will continue until Jan. 14, and the starting lineups will be announced on Jan. 27, with the coaches unveiling their selections three days later. It's nothing new for Carter. He was also the leading vote-getter for last year's all-star game, receiving nearly two million votes, and it was there, in Oakland, that the 23-year-old Carter's popularity took off with three gravity-defying, perfect-10 jams.
The rest of the best
2. Lorie Kane of Charlottetown got rid of the runner-up stigma for good, winning three LPGA tournaments and reaffirming her position as Canada's top woman golfer -- perhaps best ever on the Tour.
3. Carlos Delgado led Toronto Blue Jay batters to a league-high 244 homers. The $17-million-a-year first baseman hit .344 with 41 homers and 137 RBIs. He captured Players Choice awards as Overall Player of the Year and American League Outstanding Player.
4. Mike Weir, at the age of 30, had eight top-10 PGA finishes, won $2.5-million, was sixth in PGA earnings and captured the World Golf Championship event in Spain last month. The lefty from Bright's Grove, Ont., has the confidence now to plan his 2001 season around golf's majors.
5. Lennox Lewis effects an accent to be taken for a British heavyweight boxer, but he won Olympic gold for Canada in 1988 and maintains a home in Brampton, Ont. This past year he kept his world championship belt against Michael Grant, Francois Botha and David Tua.
6. Chris Pronger became the first defenceman since Bobby Orr to capture both the Norris and Hart Trophies. He has a chance to be the best two-way defenceman ever to play in the National Hockey League. Not as offensively blessed as Orr, but deeper in defensive talent.
7. Mike Pringle won the Canadian Football League rushing title for the sixth time in seven seasons and established a league record with 19 touchdowns on the ground during the regular season. He also moved closer to George Reed's record for career rushing yards, and played in the Grey Cup game despite a severe hamstring injury.
8. Daniel Igali was chosen the Lou Marsh Trophy winner as an Olympic and world wrestling champion. Nigerian-born, with 20 siblings, Igali chose Canada as his adopted home after the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. When he won in Sydney he kissed his new flag and wept at the anthem.
9. Steve Nash, the Victoria point guard of the Dallas Mavericks, is Canada's best product in the NBA and almost led the Canadian national team to the Olympic medal podium. Because the Olympians were so dependent on him, he's learned to be more aggressive and selfish with the ball.
10. Jonathon Power is the brat of the squash set but he's spent the past three years trading the No. 1 and No. 2 rankings with Scotland's Peter Nicol. Power toppled the Scot at a world tour event in Toronto last month to reclaim top spot.
Honourable mentions: Simon Whitfield won the first Olympic triathlon gold medal; Scott Stevens won the Conn Smythe Trophy in Stanley Cup play and resurrected the open-ice hit as an artform; Sebastien Lareau and Daniel Nestor struck Olympic gold in tennis doubles and ended a 32-year drought by Canadians with a doubles victory at the Masters Series - Canada; and World Cup speed skating stars Catriona Le May Doan and Jeremy Wotherspoon.
Canada's sports leaders
Saturday: The leaders and losers
Today: The athletes
Tomorrow: The usung heroes
THursday: The media stars
Friday: Ten to watch in 2001
Follow the series at globeandmail.com/sports and make your pick for Canada's Sports Leader in 2000.