As the summer wears on, with training camps and preseason play still off in (what feels like) the distant future, we turn our attention to the past. Join us as we while away a few late-summer moments recalling some of the most scintillating slams of yesteryear, the most thunderous throwdowns ever to sear themselves into our memories. This is Dunk History.
Today, Jeff Eisenberg of The Dagger recalls Vince Carter's stunning slam over Frederic Weis in the 2000 Olympics and how it became the basketball legacy of the dunk's victim.
Many of the victims of the best dunks in NBA history have enjoyed such accomplished careers that being emasculated on national TV is a mere footnote in their careers.
Not so for the man nicknamed "French Toast."
Since former New York Knicks first-round draft pick Frederic Weis never played a minute in the NBA, he is best known by American basketball fans as the man on the wrong end of a gravity-defying Vince Carter dunk in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Carter stepped in front of an ill-fated behind-the-back outlet pass from one of Weis' French teammates, took two dribbles and leapt over the unsuspecting 7-foot-2 center to deliver one of the most memorable dunks of his highight-riddled career.
The dunk was the signature moment of Team USA's gold medal run and earned the nickname "Le dunk de la mort” — the dunk of death — in the French media. It remains a staple of highlight shows and YouTube more than a decade later, a fact the good-natured Weis insists doesn't bother him.
"It was just him doing something incredible," Weis told HoopsHype.com in 2005. "I can only imagine... If he jumped over me, he can jump over anybody! If people laugh, I laugh too. At least I can I say I once played against him."
Perhaps Weis would have gained notoriety among NBA fans for better reasons if he had been able to take advantage of being selected by the Knicks.
The combination of the language barrier and strength and stamina issues made Weis' NBA summer league debut an embarrassment for both himself and the Knicks in 1999. The team wanted him to return the next few years for a second chance to prove he was NBA-worthy, but Weis never again donned a Knicks jersey.
In 2000, he was recovering from a back injury and didn't feel he was in good enough shape to make a push for a roster spot. In 2001, he balked over the Knicks' desire to evaluate him against rookies and free agents before tendering him a contract offer.
Weis enjoyed a solid 15-year career in France, Spain and Greece before retiring in 2011. He won a French League championship with Limoges in 2000 and helped France earn a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics and a bronze at the 2005 European Championships.
Nonetheless, in the eyes of NBA fans, Weis will be remembered for two things — and two things only: He is the guy the Knicks selected ahead of Ron Artest in 1999 and he is the guy Vince Carter put in a poster the following summer.
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