Memories of Vince Carter


With the off-season here, and a pending lockout coming, it is very possible that there won’t be much to talk about for some time.  As such, I’m preparing in advance by discussing pointless NBA related stories, varying from amusing to sentimental. Today, I look back on my memories of Vince Carter, and coerce a parallel between his career with his Twitter page. Apparently, that’s possible – or at least I hope so.


Half-Man.

Half-Amazing.

Vince Carter was one of my favorite players from 1998 until around 2002. This past year, people were enamoured with Blake Griffin’s dunks (which were undoubtedly awesome). However, at 6-7, Vince not only had Blake’s dunking power, but also had a greater arsenal of creativity in his dunks, in addition to being a more complete player. Whether it was dunks (one of my favorite unheralded dunks of all time), game-winners, three pointers, or passing ability, Vince was undoubtedly a franchise player early in his career. With his presence alone, he managed to infuse life back into a franchise that had finished the season before his arrival with a 16-66 record.

Being from Toronto, I followed Vince’s career very closely during his time here. From scoring 39 over Duncan and the Spurs in 2000 (and dunking over The Admiral), to dropping 51 in the Raptors’ first ever nationally televised game against the Suns, Carter was my hero at 11 years old. I even imitated his free throw shooting routine when I played basketball.

Likewise, Toronto loved him, and many probably still do (we boo cause we love?). I still root for him to succeed as a player because he truly put the Raptors on the map and largely defined my childhood in the process. No, we haven’t seen a franchise player like him since (Bargnani and Bosh were never franchise players), and no, the Raptors haven’t been the same since his departure. To deny Vince’s impact in Toronto is to fail in understanding that we booed him because like Cleveland with Lebron James, he had a profound influence on the city.

Of course, injuries piled up, and Carter’s laziness and lackadaisical attitude to the game of basketball ultimately took its toll. Somewhere along the way, Vince Carter went from being a likely certified HOF player, to likely concluding his career as one of the most underachieving players in the history of the NBA. He had the tools to become better than Kobe Bryant. I say that because there was a time, specifically in his second and third seasons, that Vince was better or equal to Kobe Bryant. Check Carter’s 2001 numbers of 27 points, 4 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1.5 steals per game – he was an MVP candidate. However, Kobe continued to rise his game and was driven to be the best in the league.

Carter, meanwhile, never reached up to the potential that WE saw in him. My only guess is that he didn’t see it in himself. More sadly, for one of the most gifted athletes in the history of the league – someone who had the potential to be the best player of his generation – basketball was likely just a means to an end.

Which brings me to this post. After he got traded to Orlando, I really thought Vince would finally redeem himself and show the world what I had seen in him all those years ago in Toronto – a greatly gifted player who was largely misunderstood.

He did not.

Instead, the Magic traded him after one season for Hedo freaking Turkolgu, who was essentially the laziest player on the 2009-2010 Raptors and a waste of cap space.

Now in Phoenix, VC is essentially in NBA purgatory (sorry, Steve). After a career filled with disappointment, he has even gone from the classic #15 jersey that I’ll always remember him by to an ugly #25 (seriously, just look at it) that seems disconnected, out of place. Likewise, he went from being that dude who sold out arenas to rocking an awkward-looking beard and being a largely irrelevant player in the NBA.

I reached out to Vince on Twitter the other day, telling him that he was my favourite player growing up and that I thought Toronto should retire his jersey.  I said it because I believed it, and because he was huge reason (along with Bryant) that I became the hoops junkie that I am). He never replied or retweeted my post, which is understandable – I’m sure he has tons of other posts to attend to (Hilarious side note: most of Carter’s tweets are directed at rap-video models with cool names like CINNABUNNS and Scarlett.Who can blame him? Half-man Half-Casanova!).

I’m not here to judge Vince Carter on who he tweets or what he tweets about. Through his Twitter page, however, all I wanted to see was that Vince at least has some passion left in him for basketball (and not just hitting up women). You’ll notice it with pretty much every other NBA player’s Twitter feed – the words “gym”, and “shooting” always appear, as does general basketball observations.

Vince’s Twitter feed, surprisingly, seems less like that of a basketball (especially dunk) legend and more of a guy who has lots of time on his hands. No tweets about hitting up the gym, no tweets about the NBA Finals. Instead, there’s lots of tweets to video vixens.

Unfortunately, that realization essentially sums up Carter’s career as a basketball player. The talent was always there, but the passion essentially eroded after 3 years and one major setback (his “jumper’s knee” injury in 2001-2002).

Just before I was about to close his Twitter feed however, I saw this, and it concludes what I always thought was true: it seems that VC misses the glory years of limitless potential just like the rest of us.

Thanks for the memories, Vince.

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10 thoughts on “Memories of Vince Carter

  1. oh cry me a river! Vince tweeted me back a coule of months ago. He does tweet his fans, just don’t be a male groupie while doing it. He gets harraassed by fans everywhere he goes.

  2. Thanks – great article. Fellow Torontonian here. I was a basketball fan even before the Raptors were formed (kid growing up during the MJ area) and was, like every other TO bball nut, completely stoked about VC and his capabilities. But once he left for the Nets, it was clear as day that he just simply didn’t (and still doesn’t) have the drive to win and I think you hit it on the nail – that WE saw a lot of potential in him to be one of the bests, but he just mailed it in. To him, this is just a paycheck, nothing more. If he were to even get close to a championship, that was with Orlando.

    • Yeah, I really thought he would redeem himself in Orlando, I was even willing to put money on it (thank god I didn’t). He was efficient for Orlando for most of the season but of course, he flamed out in the playoffs when they needed him and averaged just 13 points on 36% FG and 21(!)% 3PT. I’ll be doing a post within the next week on whether or not Carter’s jersey should be retired in Toronto (among other topics) so tune in for that. Thanks for reading.

  3. vince’s prime began after he left toronto–he was comparable to kobe bryant even after he left toronto–(check his avgs of 27ppg–in NJ after the trade, 24.5 ppg and 25 ppg in 05 06 and 07)

  4. Vince athletic prime began in NJ yes, but his career prime was in Toronto (he LEAD his team then – JK was the leader of those NJ teams). Kobe’s ABSOLUTE prime years were 2003, 2005 (04 didn’t count cause of the effects of his rape trial), 2006, 2007, and 2008. Vince’s absolute prime years were 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, but his numbers declined at a much sharper rate.

    Let’s compare:

    2001

    Kobe: 28.5 ppg (this is with Shaq on his team too, remember)
    Carter: 27.6

    2003:

    Kobe: 30 ppg

    2005:

    Kobe: 27.6
    Carter: 27.5

    2006

    Kobe: 35.4
    Carter: 24.2

    2007

    Kobe: 31.6
    Carter: 25.2

    2008

    Kobe: 28.3 (with the MVP)
    Carter: 21.3

    Looking at that, really the only year that Carter was even COMPARABLE to Kobe was 2001 and 2005. That’s two seasons, one of in which Kobe was just 21 years old and playing second fiddle to Shaq. Not to mention the fact that Kobe was a better defender, and helped the team in other categories as well.

  5. Excellent article, especially the twitter part. I’ve been saying this all day long about his twitter – that it kind of shows where he is mentally now (now = in the last years).

    He was such a different player in his last year as a net vs. his year with Orlando… TOTALLY different player – (a lot) more athletic, more assertive, called for the ball etc etc etc.

    Kidd was great in putting the ball in the hands of Vince pretty much every half court attack and that kept Vince locked in the game on both offense and defense (he plays defense a lot better when he’s involved offensively).

    If you’re interested about my story (it could be a cool read) about how I became a VC fan, check this out:

    http://www.brightsideofthesun.com/2011/3/30/2080336/so-whats-up-with-my-ocd-for-vc

    • He’s even worse now than he was in Orlando – its like he just completely spiraled out of control as a player the moment he started growing out his beard (I refuse to believe that the two are not correlated).

      I’m about to check out your article now, will comment on it right after.

      Thanks for visiting the site.

      • Definitely worse, he’s just going through the motions knowing that he will most likely not going to be with the Suns this year (if there is a season this year). So why risk getting injured by playing at 100%, I think that’s his thing.

        But the problem is that he doesn’t look like he wants to play anymore at a serious level…

        I bet that if he were to play at 100%, not 99, not 90, not 50, at 100% of his ability he’d be a great player because the skill is there. It just takes more effort to display it at this age, effort that VC isn’t willing to do.

      • @Raptor – Sorry for the slow response to this, but I’ve finally gotten an opportunity to start writing on this website again. I definetly think he’ll be back after the lockout, but it will be with a team like Chicago or the Heat. Carter may suck in a lot of ways nowadays, but he can still score the basketball when he picks and chooses his spots carefully. Also, he’s a very good spot up shooter, so I don’t see him struggling with adjusting to such a role at all.

        I want him to keep playing.

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