Now at the end of his 20th season in the NBA, it’s safe to say Vince Carter was a once in a generational athlete in the NBA. A player who lived above the rim and who could also shoot the lights out, Carter has embodied almost every role imaginable in the league. A superstar, the villain, a role player and also a the veteran teacher, Carter journey throughout the league has come full circle.
With retirement looming for the 41 year old, a lot of fans and journalist have began to ask: Will Carter make the Hall of Fame? Will his number be retired?
With stops in seven NBA cities, its time we broke down what legacy Carter has along the confines of his basketball career.
Toronto Raptors: 1998-2004, 23.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1 block
When I think of Carter in the NBA, I think of his time in Toronto. Traded for Antwan Jamison on draft night, Carter created a basketball culture in Canada. Now the league’s lone franchise in the North, Carter’s impact on the popularity in the North would be enough to establish him as a candidate to be the Raptors first jersey in the rafters of the Air Canada Centre.
If you were to look at the list of NBA’s from Canada who picked up a basketball based off watching Carter, you would be shocked to find any who wouldn’t name him. And there’s a reason for this. Type in Carter’s name alongside the Raptors name, and you’ll find one of the greatest highlight packages on the internet. Virtually living above the rim with his play, Carter turned this franchise from a laughing stock to a playoff contender.
Although his departure from the city was far from pretty — basically the whole city turned their back on him — in recent years their has been a reconciliation on both sides. Even this season, Carter is quoted as saying he will eventually return to Toronto one day, because “it’s supposed to happen.”
Maybe it will happen as a player, coach or consultant for the front office. But as a fan of the game, it would feel right here.
New Jersey Nets: 2004-2009, 23.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.2 steals,
What I would label as his “Villain” identity, Carter was just still in the prime of his career. Of the numbers mentioned above, points, rebounds assists and 44.7 percent shooting were career highs. Now on a new team and a playoff contender, Carter game didn’t change much from his time for the Raptors.
But unlike his time in Toronto, he was a lot more successful in the playoffs. Playing a key role in knocking out his former team in the 2007 first round, Carter was also a key factor in the team’s two consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference semifinals before being shipped off to the Orlando Magic in 2009.
When asked about his time in Orlando, Carter remembers it fondly. In a interview with The New York Post, Carter said “Of course. When you hear people talk about it, of course,” about is jersey being retired in the Barclay’s Centre. “For years to come, you walk in here and see your name in the rafters in an arena, a professional arena, that’s your dream come true for every player.
“It’s a goal for guys. It means you’ve had a phenomenal career for that team. I would never tell them no, I’ll tell you that.”
With three all-star team appearances to his name during this time, there’s definitely a lot of mutual love between the player and franchise. But does that equate to having your jersey retired? Only time will tell.
Orlando Magic: 2009-2010, 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists
Traded from the Nets to the Magic, Carter was expected to add even more fire-power to a Orlando Magic team that loss in the NBA finals. Unfortunately for both parties, things didn’t go all as planned.
Now in his 30’s, Carter’s game began to change a bit. With a little less bounce in his step, Carter settled for more jump shots instead of creating his own opportunities off the dribble. Although he had a few memorable moments — including a 48 point game and some clutch shots — Carter began to drift in terms of his overall production. Inconstancy plagued his time in Orlando, with the former superstar turned into a role player for the Magic.
Even though adding him to the team wasn’t a bad move, Carter’s time in Orlando doesn’t have any particular fond moments that stick out like the first two franchises he called home.
Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies: 2010-2017, 10.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists
I would have described them individually, but Carter’s game didn’t change much over the course of these seven seasons. With time spent in three different organizations, Carter continued his transition into more of a spot up shooter who kept defenders honest by attacking the rim every once in a while. Although he never got close to an NBA Championship during this time, Carter did his best to be a complementary role player on playoff contending teams.
Sacramento Kings: 2017-18, 5.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists
Now officially as a veteran teacher, it’s safe to say Carter has tailed off in his career. Although he might not be the same guy he was when he entered the league, it’s always nostalgic to see highlights like these.
Showing the occasional flash in the pan in terms of his athleticism, Carter has gone from jaw dropping highlights to a veteran who does all of the little things to help his team win.
In terms of a legacy, Carter will be remembered for a few things. He ignited a basketball culture in Canada, he soared to new heights (and above people) on the court and made a few fans and enemies along the way. If nothing else, he showed fans that its possible for players to be adaptable to the constantly evolving NBA.
When he does retire — he said he does plan on staying another year — people will look back on a player who transcended time, space, and often gravity.