This season will be Vince Carter’s last.
“I just think that after next season it is time,” Carter told ESPN’s “The Jump” over the summer.
“It’s been great.
The fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft,Carter, 42 is the NBA’s oldest player. He’s also in his 22nd season in the league as a member of the Atlanta Hawks that is built around second-year standout point guard Trae Young.
“I want these guys to understand their importance,” Carter told USA Today.
“This is the foundation of what you want to be a part of in a couple years. So, OK, after two weeks maybe we lost four in a row. Are you tired of losing? Let’s fix the problem. Let’s fix our approach. Let’s go a little harder, whatever the case may be, that’s what we’re trying to change, which will hopefully roll over.”
Carter has also played for the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and the New Jersey Nets.
While Carter has been the NBA’s ironman with career averages of 17 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1 steal per contest, Carter will always be remembered as a Toronto Raptors icon.
Carter won the NBA’s Slam Dunk Contest in 2000 throwing down 360-windmill jams for the ages that wasn’t replicated again until 2016 when Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon went toe to toe in the NBA’s Slam Dunk contest in Toronto.
After participating in the Slam Dunk Contest in 2016, Gordon told me that Carter’s reverse 360 windmill in 2000 was legendary.
“Huge,” he said.
Before Drake dubbing Toronto ‘The 6’ and Kawhi Leonard and his laugh became ‘a thing,’ Vince Carter was a Raptors cornerstone.
Taking a look back, Carter was the midpoint between Damon Stoudamire, Zan Tabak, Sharone Wright, Carlos Rogers and Marcus Camby and had more lasting power in Toronto than Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh.
During his rookie season in Toronto, Carter averaged 18.3 points per game and earned the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award.
Fans in Canada and the U.S. loved VC and dubbed him: “Air Canada.”
For those keeping score at home: While Carter is now a lifetime Nike wearer, VC wore Puma sneakers in the early Raptors days. Quiet as it is also kept, he won the Slam Dunk Contest wearing And 1’s Tai Chi sneakers as well.
During Carter’s second season in the league he was a terror.
The North Carolina Tar Heel product averaged 25.7 points per game; the fourth-highest in the league at that time and lifted Toronto to its first playoff appearance in franchise history. That season earned him his first NBA All-Star selection and an All-NBA Third Team.
While Carter had great memories in Toronto, he was traded to the Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson-led New Jersey Nets on December 17, 2004.
Many believe that this was the worse trade in NBA history as the Raptors shipped Carter in a deal for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first round draft picks.
According to Fansided’s Raptors Rapture: It was reported that Carter was becoming disillusioned with the franchise and the direction they were heading in, but in a private meeting with then-Raptors president Richard Peddie, he was reassured that the team was solely focused on becoming a contender.
Granted, the Raptors and Carter have moved on.
What if Carter stayed in Toronto?
BSO Sports’ Erika Fernandez told Carter that folks on social media like the idea of Carter coming back to Toronto for one last game as a member of the Raptors. The New York-based reported asked Carter what he thought about it.
Carter paused, smiled and told Fernandez: “I stay outta that.”
Social media aren’t the only Carter to Toronto conspiracy theorists. Carter’s former Nets teammate Mikki Moore told me he wants to see it too.
“It would be lovely,” he said.
“It would be lovely to see him go back there.”