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Half Man, Half Amazing: How Vince Carter Made Himself an NBA Great

by Matt Orth

It was just another ordinary night in Atlanta, back in March. The Atlanta Hawks were playing the New York Knicks and the game went into overtime. The Knicks took a lengthy lead at the end of the extra period, and with Vince Carter only having two points, the Atlanta fans wanted him out on the court at the end of the game.

Carter was inbounded the ball by future star, point guard Trae Young, then proceeded to take an uncontested three-point shot and swished it. Before anyone knew it officially, that was the last shot of Carter’s career.

After the end of the game, it was learned that Utah Jazz center, Rudy Gobert, was the first known positive coronavirus (COVID-19) case among players in the NBA, which led to the league suspending the season. Unfortunately, this ended the long career of Carter, also known as “Vinsanity.” The Hawks were not a part of the 22 teams that were invited back into the Disney World bubble when the season resumed in July.

While forcing the season to stop due to a virus, it is not the best way to go out from playing professional basketball. Carter definitely should not be ashamed of what he has done for the many teams he has been on and for the game of basketball.

Carter’s career spanned over four decades, beginning in 1998. He played for eight different teams, including the New Jersey Nets and the Phoenix Suns. He also played for the Dallas Mavericks, where his most memorable moment came in Game 2 of a first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. Carter hit a corner three as time winded down, to give Dallas a 2-1 lead in the series. Unfortunately, San Antonio won that series in seven games.

Carter’s biggest impact started in Toronto.

In 1998, Carter was drafted fifth in the draft by a newer team in the league at the time, the Toronto Raptors. With a lockout preventing the 1998 season from starting his destiny, Carter’s career officially started at the beginning of 1999, where he surprised many Toronto fans.


Not only did Carter win Rookie of the Year, with an impressive average of 19 points per game, the high-flying slam dunks he performed during games were a marvel to behold. He started the show early on, proving that he was going to be a special player in the NBA.

In the 1999-2000 season, Carter gained his first All-Star selection and he led the Raptors to their first playoff appearance in franchise history. “Vinsanity” was also selected to be a part of the 2000 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest, and twenty years later, it still stands as one of the greatest athletic performances in sports history.

Carter completed dunks such as a 360-degree windmill, a between the legs bounce and the famous dunk where he put his elbow in the rim. Nowadays, we see players do these dunks in-game like it is nothing, with players like Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine and Derrick Jones Jr. putting on an amazing show; but Carter set that standard long ago. He is the “OG” of flashy dunks and hopefully, people will not forget that.

Carter played six seasons with the Raptors and made five all-star games during that span. He averaged 23 points, five rebounds and four assists per game during his six-year run with the Raptors. However, the dunks could not be measured on a quantitative scale; the impact of that was meant for the eyes of basketball fans and players alike.

After allowing Michael Jordan to take his spot in the 2003 All-Star Game, before his career winded down, Carter was traded to the Nets during the 2004 season, where he put up even stronger numbers. While his all-star success continued to mount, his playoff success fell short because he was not surrounded by the right players to win a championship.

Carter was traded to the Orlando Magic in 2009 and made it to the Conference Finals during his first season in Florida. Unfortunately, he and the Magic were defeated by the Boston Celtics in six games, marking the farthest he has ever gotten in the playoffs. After moving to Phoenix and having little success there, he was traded to Dallas in 2011, where he flaunted his three-point shooting, but again had little success in the playoffs.

Carter's NBA career spans over four decades. Photo courtesy of ClutchPoints

Carter’s NBA career spans over four decades.
Photo courtesy of ClutchPoints

On March 2, 2020, Carter passed Jason Terry to become the sixth all-time leader in three-pointers made in NBA history, with 2,290 long-shots made. In the end, after stints with teams like the Sacramento Kings and eventually the Hawks, Carter never won a championship ring. Though, he did win the hearts of many fans and changed the way dunks look in the NBA; he made them look like a show, instead of a simple way to put the ball in the hoop.

With Carter’s basketball experience and the many legends he met along the way, basketball fans hope he can one day land a coaching job. Maybe if Toronto head coach, Nick Nurse, needs some assistance, or if the Raptors are in trouble one year, he can come to the rescue and lead players like Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to another championship.

Evan Diaz, a junior at Montclair State University interested in sports media, was a die-hard Nets fan, back when they were housed in the Garden State. He recognizes that Carter’s legacy is based on how he played, not what he won.

“He might not have ever been the league MVP, but he’ll always have a place in my heart for helping to make me love the game of basketball,” Diaz said.

Carter has had a lot of bad luck and postseason shortcomings in his career, but that should not take away from his massive success in the NBA.

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