An Incredible 22-Year Career Comes to an End in the Unlikeliest of Ways
It wasn’t exactly scripted to end this way, but after 22-years, Vince Carter is able to call it a career on his own terms.
Truly, one of the most remarkable careers across all sports, Carter’s transformation from a brash and confident superstar to a wise and collected veteran is one unlike any seen before. While his career was surely one filled with peaks and valleys, Carter is now able to retire as a respected figure in the game of basketball.
“It’s just, I loved playing basketball,” he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated shortly following his last game. “And 20-something years later it’s the same approach – I love playing basketball. So to really see and be appreciated and everybody just on the same page now. It’s a great feeling. And it just makes it easier to walk out of the door.”
How will the 43-year old Carter be remembered?
Maybe as the best dunker to ever step foot on a basketball floor. A superstar at his absolute peak who remarkably was able to check his ego at the door and adjust his game as his athleticism faded in the latter half of his career.
In Canada, he will be remembered as the man who revolutionized the game of basketball. Without Carter, the game would have never reached the level of popularity it has today. Basketball is now more than a sport in the country – it’s interwoven in the culture and history of Canada. Carter has inspired some of the most exciting Canadian basketball players of today, from Andrew Wiggins and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Cory Joseph and R.J. Barrett. Carter has laid down the foundation for an entire country without which, an NBA championship in 2019 may have never become possible.
Yet, with Carter, many Canadians still have a sour taste in their mouth and that is exactly why the story of Carter’s career is so interesting and intricate.
Over the years, the Raptors organization has looked to mend Carter’s relationship with the city he left behind in what was a messy and drawn out divorce, and in many ways, the organization has done an incredible job at it. Many people have moved on and as Carter matured, the love-hate relationship turned into a mutual respect. The fans have been able to look past the exit and appreciate what Carter has done for the game in Canada, while Carter has embraced the love the city has given him.
Carter’s career will be defined differently depending on who you ask.
He was among the best in the game in his prime, yet seemed to have consistently shied away from elevating his game further. He will always have his critics, yet he will always have people laud over his transformation as a player and an individual. Whether or not we ever seen the best of Vince Carter is a question we will never have an answer for, but that being said, that is truly the mystery and the beauty of Carter’s unorthodox career.
He experienced a meteoric rise to fame – to Vinsanity – and just as big of a fall from grace.
Throughout everything that he has experienced in his long and Hall of Fame-worthy career, the 43-year old was humbled by the game. After 1,541 career games – a total that ranks him third in NBA history – Carter will step away from the game of basketball. A superstar, a journeyman, and a pioneer, Vince Carter’s story is truly one that will never be forgotten.