It was nine years before the term "Bounty-Gate" would become folklorish for Minnesota sports fans and there was already a bounty being placed on another man in sports.
It was the year 2000 and the Team USA basketball team was the talk. We're talking Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Alonzo Mourning and many more, including Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett.
Joining Yahoo Sports the other day for a Q&A interview, Garnett looked back on that 2000 Olympics gold medal run and shared some interesting news, including the fact that the team had pooled money together to put a $1 million "bounty" for anyone who would posterize China's big man Yao Ming.
Remember, this was two years before Yao Ming went to the Houston Rockets with the #1 overall pick in the 2002 draft, so our familiarity with Yao was simply that of legend. Word of a 7-foot, 6-inch big man hailing from China was spreading throughout the basketball world and the NBA's best were listening.
The group of thirteen NBA veterans pooled together money to put $1,000,000 on the line for anyone who could posterize Yao Ming with a dunk in the Olympics.
"People didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming," KG told Yahoo. "The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss."
The conversation started because the interviewer had asked a question about that one time that Vince Carter Dunked OVER, like literally JUMPED OVER a 7-footer from France. Kevin famously lost his mind on the video of that dunk because for a split second, he thought Vince has just won the million dollars!
"So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh shit, you won the million dollars," Garnett continued. "But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh shit, you won, you got the million."
That dunk might be one of the most memorable of all time. First off, it hit society at a time when Vince Carter could do no wrong. Secondly, viral videos and the Internet were just taking shape, so the day and age of forwarding that video to your friend was all the rage.
Just for nostalgia, and because it was one of the coolest moments of my sports fandom let's take a look at that dunk again.