There are not a lot of names we can put alongside Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant is one of those deserving of the similarities in their playstyle, not to mention their little brother-big brother relationship. Also, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is worthy of being mentioned alongside MJ as many believe he is en route to snatching the GOAT-tag from Jordan.
“As a hooper, Vince was supposed to be the next MJ – the Air. That’s the talent he possessed, that’s the talent that from the naked eye you could see. ‘Man, he’s unstoppable!’”
Arenas beefed up his argument by pointing out the facets of Carter’s game that could have made him the Air Apparent. Carter’s leaping ability and penchant for flashy and monstrous dunks was on top of the list. Apart from this, Carter also had a jump shot in the bag. For Arenas, Carter stood out from the rest because the Toronto Raptors legend stayed in the NBA for so long. It was a testament to Carter’s supreme athletic gifts and stamina.
“When he got mad, you could not contain Vince Carter. But Vince Carter was just a chill dude. And that’s how he played the game. It was one of those things when you could argue that you had the most attributes the league has ever seen, from shooting, dribbling, jumping off on foot, off to foot, moving in the air — you can say you are going to be headed more than Jordan. When it comes to just body control and you didn’t dominate the way you should have, the fact that you lasted 20 years just tells us how gifted you were.”
Arenas is correct in his observation. Even when Carter was in his late 30s and early 40s, he was still part of his team’s rotation. He was still playing 15 to 20 minutes per game, unlike other veterans who are usually relegated to the end of the bench.
The NBA media is fond of addressing the many what-ifs. It’s a way of keeping fans engaged — for them to constantly fantasize about the things that could’ve and should’ve but will never be. What if Jordan and LeBron played in the same era? What if the Stephen Curry-led Golden State Warriors faced the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers? Like Arenas, we should chuck in Vince Carter into the bottomless bucket of what-ifs. What if Carter played to his full potential?