So Vince Carter is officially retiring from the NBA after 22 seasons. The 43-year old announced it on Thursday on his podcast “Winging It With Vince Carter.” The suspense is gone. Vinsanity’s decided – it’s time to hang ’em up.
This means the NBA no longer has a player that came to the league in the 90s. It’s officially the end of an era. An era that gave us some of the best that ever stepped foot on the basketball floor. Vince was the last of its kind, and now it’s his time to pursue his second passion, whatever it may be.
Most will remember Carter by his incredible dunking ability. He is arguably the greatest dunker the NBA has ever seen. It’s the skill that gave him iconic status in NBA circles. He never got his ring – the ultimate validation that would propel him to a whole another tier of NBA stardom. But you know what? I don’t hold it against him.
The reason why I don’t hold it against him is that Carter has always been fair to the game of basketball. He never cheated the game and has done everything the right way. He was never the ring-chaser. Instead, he chose situations in which he was able to extend his career as much as possible. And he was able to accomplish it, setting the all-time NBA record with 22 seasons played.
Over his illustrious NBA career, Vince played for eight teams, but his best years were with the Raptors and the Nets. That was the peak of VC’s powers. He had the respect of the whole league, and everybody wanted to beat Vince Carter.
Kobe Bryant was the leader of that pack. Kobe and Vince both came from the same era of NBA basketball. An era when it was much more pride involved. When load management wasn’t the option, and players were all about competing against each other. Kobe’s story speaks to that.
“We had a game against Toronto in 2000, and Vince was tearing the league up. My back was jacked. But the perception of that, like what? Kobe is missing a game against Toronto and Vince Carter? Cause my back was really spasming. But people would have looked at me like, ‘Oh, he’s duckin’ Vince.’ Excuse me? No, I don’t think so. So I would be in the layup line like, ‘Okay, there are a lot of days when you can rest and recover. Today ain’t one of them. He’s gonna have to see me today.’”Kobe Bryant, NBA Central
Newsflash, Kobe was a freak. He loved to compete against the best of the best. Carter was that type of player. He was a challenge for Kobe, and you know Mamba never backed down from one. Kobe made it his mission to prove everyone he wasn’t scared of Vince. That’s how good Vinsanity was. He was worthy of Kobe risking his health just to prove the point.
Knowing the type of player and competitor Carter was, I bet he would’ve done the same. In the early stage of his career, at least. In the later, I don’t think so. Then, it was all about playing as long as possible.
That something I’ll remember Vince for the most. Not his out of this world dunking ability, or him being the all-time great player. It’s his unmatched love for the game, and always doing it the right way.