Soaring high over players in the key, pulling off 360 and reverse windmill dunks, Vince Carter, the flying man, is an unstoppable force when given an open lane to the basket. Setting a record for most seasons played by an NBA player, Carter is back for his 22nd. His legendary career has seen many famous moments and lots of emotions.
Carter was engaged in basketball from an early age, which paid off in his senior year of high school when he became a McDonald’s All-American, a friendly basketball competition between the top players in that graduating year. After completing high school in 1995, he pursued a career in basketball and attended the University of North Carolina where he played three seasons and helped his team reach the Final Four of the NCAA March Madness tournament twice. He declared for the NBA draft in 1998 and was selected fifth overall by the Golden State Warriors, but then traded to the Toronto Raptors.
Vince has seen a good amount of achievements for his time in the league. Being in a draft with NBA legends Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, Vince won Rookie of the Year (ROTY), one of the hardest awards to win as players only have one chance. He’s also an eight-time NBA All Star, an NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion and was on the 2001 all NBA second-team and the 2000 all NBA third-team. He has never won an NBA championship, and by the looks of his current team, the Atlanta Hawks, he most likely never will. However, many basketball fans and analysts admire that Carter has not signed with a championship contender like the LA Lakers, Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, just to win a ring.
In Toronto, Carter cemented his legacy and started his great career. In 1998, three years after being founded, the Raptors struggled to make a playoff performance. After drafting Vince Carter though, the Raptors finally found themselves a playoff spot in ‘99- 2000 with Carter being a key player. The next year, Toronto saw their first playoff win, which advanced them to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Averaging 18.3 points a game in his rookie season, and throwing down highlight reel dunks, fans were excited to see what Vince could do in the years to come. Proving he was in the league to compete, the next season Carter went on to average 25.7 points, which was the fourth highest in the league at the time. During this year he earned his first NBA all star selection and put on a show for all those attending the 2000 NBA dunk contest, showcasing a 360 windmill dunk and the iconic elbow-in-the-rim dunk. During his time in the north, he acquired nicknames such as “Air Canada,” “Half Man Half Amazing,” and “Vinsanity.” He continued to have an impressive career with the Raptors until in 2004, when he was traded to the New Jersey Nets, now known as the Brooklyn Nets.
In the two years from 1998-2000, Carter and his distant cousin, Tracy McGrady, became a great duo in the league. Fans were ecstatic to see these two perform every night and had high hopes of maybe winning a championship. This came to an end when McGrady was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2000, leaving Carter to carry the Raptors. After seeing how Vince continued to grow throughout his years as a Raptor, fans were distraught and only imagined what they could have had if McGrady had stayed.
Jumping between eight teams over 22 seasons, Carter has been settled in Atlanta playing with the Hawks for two years now. Playing about 15 minutes and averaging about six points per game so far this season, he is no longer the star player like he used to be. Although he may not be helping his team as much on the court, off court he is a great mentor for young players and rookies that join the team. This includes Trae Young, who is en route to becoming an all star and an elite player in the league. Many believed that Carter was going to sign with a powerhouse team over the last offseason in hopes of winning his first ring. Seeing now that he did not, it seems likely that he will retire after this season.
Vince Carter’s career saw many amazing moments, and maybe in this season he can continue to surpass other players in all time points, rebounds, assists. Many Raptors and even NBA fans have speculation that Carter will end his career in Toronto by signing with the Raptors for a one-day contract. The team may also retire his jersey and hang it in the rafters. For now, we will continue to watch Carter this season and, maybe a 23rd season if he has enough fuel left in the tank.
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