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Rui Hachimura dunking over Pau Gasol is the best Olympics posterization since Vince Carter

July 26, 2021

The summer of 2000. Sydney, Australia. Team USA basketball is up 15 points on France and cruising. Gary Payton drives inside but misses, and France grab the rebound. Trying to the run the floor, France turn it over in Team USA’s own half. A 23-year-old kid with tampoline springs for legs named Vince Carter grabs the loose ball, and heads for the rim. 7’ 2” French center Frederic Weis sets up to take the charge. The rest, as they say, is history.

That’s the so-called “Dunk of Death.” You’ve seen it a million times. It’s absolutely the greatest dunk in Olympics basketball history, and quite possibly the greatest in plain, old basketball history. It will never be topped. It will never be equaled. But Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura did his damndest on Monday, dunking over (or rather sort of around) 7’ 1” Spaniard Pau Gasol in what has to be the best Olympics dunks since the best Olympics dunk. Check it out.

Pretty incredible, and the photos are arguably even better.

It’s not a one-to-one comparison. Nothing ever will be. But the fact that it happens on the exact same part of floor on the exact same international stage certainly evokes memories of the “Dunk of Death.” Unfortunately, unlike Carter’s dunk, Hachimura’s came in a losing effort, with Japan falling to Spain 88-77. But even if Japan don’t medal on home soil (they almost certainly won’t), at least Hachimura gave the fans at home something to remember for Olympics to come.