The 2019-2020 season has come to an abrupt stop. With the coronavirus becoming a worldwide pandemic many NBA fans and players find themselves in a state of limbo. With no clear date in sight for the return of the NBA, let's take this time to remember and celebrate some of the greats the game has given us. To kick off my new "Throwback Series" we look at Vince Carter and his career.
Vince Carter will be a Hall of Famer when it’s all said and done. He dedicated 22 of his 43 years on Earth to the NBA. Throughout those 22 years, we watched him age gracefully and learn to adapt to whatever father time was throwing his way. With the 2019-2020 season's cancellation, Vince Carter may have played his last game and hit his last shot in an NBA uniform on March 11th.
The 43-year-old is the only player in NBA history to play in four different decades (the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020). At first glance, that accomplishment just seems to emphasize that he is the oldest player in the league right now, but it goes way beyond that. When it's all said and done Carter will retire an 8-time all-star, 2-time All NBA (second and third-team), 22nd all-time in scoring, and 6th all-time in three-pointers made.
This story is a celebration of his five greatest moments (in my opinion) and comes with a timeline and videos (at the end of the story) with three bonus moments.
2000 ALL-STAR WEEKEND
Carter was drafted in 1998 with the 5th pick by the Toronto Raptors. Coming out of the blue blood University of North Carolina as a dominant and showstopping player with his numerous posters and gravity-defying dunks. That hype that surrounded Carter translated into the NBA without a problem, as he went on to average 18 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3 assists per game in his rookie season (he ended up becoming the rookie of the year). Carter’s burst into NBA superstardom came in the following season, the 1999-2000 season saw his numbers jump to 25.7 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Carter was now an All-Star for the first time and he participated and dominated in one of the greatest all-star weekends in NBA history.
His first stop that weekend was the slam dunk contest which featured the likes of Steve Francis and Tracy McGrady (his cousin). Carter immediately set himself apart from the competition with his first dunk. With a combination of grace, power, and hangtime Carter broke out a reverse 360 windmill for his first dunk giving him a perfect score on his first dunk. Later that night he would confirm that he didn’t follow the laws of gravity and do the “Honeydip” dunk (a dunk where you put your whole album in the rim as you dunk). It was here that he solidified himself as one of (if not, the) greatest dunkers of all time.
The Dunk of Death
The year of 2000 was Vince Carter's breakout year. He had established himself as one of the best young talents in the league and was already one of the most exciting players to watch. His impressive showing in the dunk contest earlier in the year proved that he was one of the premier skywalkers in the NBA's history. Carter's work in the dunk contest was nothing compared to his in-game dunks. The audacity he had to try certain dunks and pull them off so easily and gracefully. This was no different in international basketball games.
The summer if 2000 saw Australia host the Olympics in Sydney. Carter was now an Olympian and member of the Team USA squad. Carter was no surrounded by some of the greatest talents in NBA history (such as Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton, Ray Allen, and Jason Kidd). Among all those NBA stars Carter managed to stand out and grab the attention of spectators the only way he knew how. Dunking the ball in ways we have never seen before.
On September 25 of 2000, Vince Carter pulled off the greatest in-game dunk ever against France's national team. With about 16 minutes left in the second half, Carter picked off a pass, took two dribbles from the three-point line and took off. This wasn't a regular take off though, there was 7'2 center, Fredric Weiss, standing in between him and the rim. Most people would abort mission right then and there and settle for a floater or layup. Vince on the other hand just took off... not around Weiss, but over him. In transition. In the middle of a competitive game, to even have the audacity to try that. If you're still wondering if he made it... of course he made it.
That dunk would be labeled "The Dunk of Death," here in the States and "Le Dunk de la Mort" in France (Fredric Weiss' home country). That one poster single-handedly ended and haunted Fredric Weiss' career.
2005 All-Star Game
In his seventh year as a pro, Carter was entering a new stage of his career. He was a five-time all-star, a two-time recipient of All NBA honors (third-team and second-team). Carter got traded from the Toronto Raptors to then-New Jersey Net on December 17, 2004, after continuous playoff disappointments and growing turmoil.
The new squad and home gave Carter a fresh new start and a better chance at contention for an NBA championship. At 28 years of age, Carter was now on a team with Jason Kidd (one of the greatest floor generals in NBA history), Richard Jefferson, and former number one pick Kenyon Martin. The new environment didn't stop Carter from becoming an all-star starter yet again and he again gave everyone a show.
All though he ended the game with 11 points his team came out with the win (East won 125-115) and he caught one of the highlights of the night. Near the end of the second quarter, Carter took the ball the full length of the court, threw it off the backboard to himself and boomed it. The extension and power were something we all knew Carter for, but yet again everyone watching walked away amazed.
Posterizing Alonzo Mourning
At this point, it's very clear that Vince Carter had and still has bounce. He made a career of creating posters out of defenders. On November 7, 2005, Vince Carter caught one of his greatest posters on one of the greatest defensive big men in NBA history, Alonzo Mourning.
Its season number eight Vince Carter was entering what many considered the prime years of an NBA player's career. At 28 going on 29 years of age, the springs that Carter had were still fresh and he was able to add another player to his long list of posters.
Vince picked up a loose ball wrapped it around his back avoiding the Miami Heat's Jason Williams. From there he took one hard dribble, gathered, and then rose. Mourning followed his lead jumping up with him to contest the shot and give him some contact. Vince took the contact and continued to rise as Mourning literally began to come back down to Earth. The laws of gravity didn't apply to Vince in this moment he just hung in the air waiting for Mourning to succumb to gravity. The end result was the ball going through the rim and Carter looking at his bench in disgust.
Game Tying Shot and Winner Against His Former Team
Vince Carter did not leave the Toronto Raptors on good terms with the franchise and their fanbase. The resentment coming from both Carter and the Raptors faithful always meant that the game would be intense. Carter broke the hearts of the Raptors fans when he left his Air Canada monicker behind and requested to be traded. This time he broke their hearts as a Net with two cold-blooded buckets. Carter ended that game with 39 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists.
The two shots he hit were a true testament to the versatility that Vince Carter was able to show throughout his career. The shot he hit to tie the game and send it to OT was a tough three-pointer that was heavily contested. That clutch shot was followed by a game-winning reverse alley-oop dunk off of the inbound. A three-ball and a dunk, the two weapons that Carter used throughout his career to get him to 22nd on the NBA all-time scoring list with 25,690.