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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Carter Adds High Jump to His Repertoire

Basketball: Spectacular dunk over 7-foot-2 Weis is highlight of otherwise lackluster 106-94 U.S. victory over France.

September 26, 2000|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SYDNEY, Australia — Incroyable!

Vince Carter's spread-eagle slam dunk over the head of 7-foot-2 Frederic Weis of France on Monday was so incredible it left people grasping for words in two languages.

The buzz is going to go on for a while.

Settle for a word that works as well in English as in French.

Impossible.

"I said, 'Why on me?' I'm going to be on the poster," said Weis, a much-maligned 1999 first-round draft pick of the New York Knicks who is going to be much more maligned now. "Everybody's going to know my face--or at least my number."

The best way to describe Carter's dunk is this: Picture the famous Michael Jordan silhouette of a flying dunk.

Then put a 7-2 man underneath.

Carter went over the top, a leg on either side of Weis' head.

"I was thinking to take a charge, but he jumped over me," Weis said. "It's unbelievable."

Yes, it was.

"I've never seen anybody jump a 7-footer," guard Tim Hardaway said, rating the dunk a 10.

"Maybe a 12," Hardaway said.

It was a dunk so remarkable Carter did his team a great service: He distracted people from the game--another uncomfortably close one that the U.S. wound up winning, 106-94.

The 12-point margin was the second-narrowest since NBA players began playing in the Olympics--the record of nine was set against Lithuania two games earlier.

The U.S. even trailed by 10 points in the first half, but it doesn't matter: The Americans will face Russia in a quarterfinal game Thursday.

Carter launched his dunk four minutes into the second half for a 17-point lead, and it sparked a dunkfest that left the French players dazed for minutes.

"That's what it's about," Carter said. "The object is to motivate your teammates and yourself, more than the fans."

Carter might have found his inspiration the night before, when he watched Russia's Sergei Kliugin win the gold medal in the high jump.

"I was at the track and field last night, and I told my mom I was itching to do it," he said. "I watched that event more than anything.

"I just wanted to try it. I had the urge for some reason."

He'd do all right.

Kliugin cleared only 7 feet 8 1/2 to win.

Carter cleared 7-2, although he didn't have to get his legs over the bar.

"It was like he was going for the long jump, or the high jump, or the pole vault," Hardaway said.

"I've seen a bunch of dunks. I've seen Vince dunk on people, I've seen Michael Jordan dunk on people. I've seen Alonzo [Mourning] dunk on people.

"But I mean, he jumped right over the guy."

Weis ducked, but not that much.

"It's the first time in my life I see somebody jumping like this," Weis said, agreeably dissecting his humiliation in two languages. "But he's a good guy. He joked with me. He said, 'Did you see the dunk I put in your face?'

"I said, 'No, I didn't see. It was too quick.' "

Carter says he doesn't think about his dunks. They just happen.

"It's just a play, man. Most importantly, we're still keeping our streak. We're winning, we're playing well.

"I'm glad the fans enjoyed it, but it's one play."

Tell that to Weis.

"He shouldn't take it that hard," Carter said. "But if it happened back to back, he should worry. He did have a rough night under there.

"Things like that can make you famous."

"Infamous" would be the word.

And too bad China didn't make the quarterfinals.

Maybe Carter could have tried to clear 7-5 Yao Ming.

"I don't want to go there. I don't know," Carter said.

Nobody imagined this was possible either.

"Nobody thought he'd attempt that," guard Jason Kidd said.

"That was probably the best play I've seen in basketball. Michael Jordan hasn't done that. Nobody has done that.

"He's the next coming," Kidd said.

"Of Vince Carter."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Basketball Quarterfinals

Matchups for Thursday at the SuperDome:

* Italy vs. Australia

* Canada vs. France

* Yugoslavia vs. Lithuania

* United States vs. Russia

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