There are but a few more iconic players active in the NBA today than Vince Carter. Yes, you have your LeBron James fans and your Giannis Antetokounmpo supporters, but neither player can boast of having played in the NBA during the 90s. Carter can.
The 42-year-old, seemingly ageless Carter will be playing in his 22nd NBA season in 2019-20, after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks. He is set to make NBA history as he sets himself apart from Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Willis and Dirk Nowitzki – all of whom have played 21 NBA seasons.
Carter was the fifth pick in 1998 NBA draft, selected by the Golden State Warriors and was, on the same day, included in a trade for Antawn Jamison to the Toronto Raptors. He spent his first seven seasons in the league with the Raptors, flashing his gravity-defying dunks on the fastbreak as well as an overall well-rounded game. He was an instant icon. His highlight reel of high-flying plays earned him the nickname “Air Canada,” an homage-comparison to Michael “Air” Jordan, but Canada’s.
Across Carter’s career, he’s made multiple stops, having played for seven other teams before the Hawks last season. He’s never won an NBA title but can boast of being an eight-time NBA All-Star and an almost-shoe-in to being nominated to the Basketball Hall of Fame soon after he finally retires. In the 21 seasons he’s tucked in under his belt so far, “Vinsanity” has mustered averages of 17.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 3.2 apg.
He’s now going through the motions in what should be his farewell tour in the league. That said, he will be able to leave an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of Atlanta’s young roster of promising players and be a mentor to the likes of Trae Young, John Collins and De’Andre Hunter. In 2018-19, he only played an average of 17.5 minutes per game, so we should see that throttled down somewhere in the 12-15 range this season.
There will never be another Vince Carter. He’s one of a kind. A truly special player who has entertained NBA and basketball fans for over two decades now.