Kevin Garnett says there was a $1 million dunk ‘bounty’ on Yao Ming in 2000

"The whole USA team had a bet."

Yao Ming talks to the press after a preliminary round basketball game during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Antonio Scorza / Getty Images

Vince Carter’s victimization of Frederic Weis during the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney may be the dunk basketball fans remember, but Kevin Garnett says Yao Ming had been the primary target.

“People didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming,” Garnett told Yahoo in a recent, wide-ranging interview.

The former Houston Rockets center was still more than two years away from his first NBA game. However, Yao was playing in his first Olympics for the Chinese national team, and his 7-foot-6 frame apparently caught Team USA’s attention.

“The whole USA team had a bet,” Garnett said. “We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming.”

While the United States beat China by 47 points in their preliminary round matchup, Garnett says no one on the team was successful — despite their best efforts.

“We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss,” he said.

According to FIBA’s box score, Yao played 16 minutes in the game, and recorded 5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 5 personal fouls — which appears to suggest that the United States players were seeking him out.

Instead, it was the 7-foot-2 Frenchman — whose career never got off the ground in the NBA — who would be infamously memorialized in YouTube history. Garnett says he had the dunk bounty on the mind when it happened, explaining why he reacted as equally excited as Carter.

“The first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh s***, you won the million dollars,” he told Yahoo.


“But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao,” Garnett said. “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 s***, you won, you got the million.”