Vince Carter has been in the NBA longer than some readers of this site have been alive. Drafted in 1998, he was a star almost immediately upon entering the league with the Toronto Raptors, and has peacefully settled into a veteran substitute role for the last five years or so, three of them with the Memphis Grizzlies. But if we can barely imagine an NBA without Vince Carter, imagine how he feels.
As part of a joint Q&A with fellow 1998 draftees Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, the man who was once called Vinsanity opened up about his uncertainty surrounding the end of his career.
I’m a little uneasy sometimes. Some days, I’m OK with it. I know it’s near, and I’m preparing myself for it. But some days, I’m like, ‘Man, I’m not ready to walk away from it,’ because I still enjoy being in the gym… Now, I’m prepared to move on to Phase 2. But it’s kind of like, you do all the preparation to be prepared, but you’re not prepared, if that makes sense. I remember seeing all of the other guys [with the Raptors]… They stepped out in the world and were just kind of like, ‘Where do I go from here?’ I mean, those guys were prepared.
We’re not surprised at Vince’s ambivalence, but his honesty is refreshing. At 40 years old, he’s earned the right to be reflective, and he considers coaching and broadcasting as second careers, without being sure about either. He’s determined not to be a cautionary tale of a star going broke after his career, even going so far as to say “I’m not a vacation guy,” so it’s not like there’s reason to be concerned about him. Still, his parting thoughts on the subject are enough to give us pause about all the players whose careers end without as much self-awareness as Vince.
I’m ready to go when the time is [right]. There’s some mornings I wake up and it’s like, ‘Is it one more year? Or is it this year? Or is it three years?’ I can never decide on a number. Scary. It really is for me, because I love this game, and I don’t want to leave it. Not yet.