Over a decade ago Vince Carter was mentioned in the same breath as Kobe Bryant. It seems crazy now, especially after Kobe’s five rings ran parallel to Carter’s now-five separate teams since leaving the Raptors in the lurch midway through the 2004-05 season (Nets, Suns, Magic, Mavs, and he signed with the Grizzlies last month). But a new mix published a couple days ago by Max Frishberg shows how resilient Carter has been despite his failure to meet somewhat unrealistic expectations after he burst onto the scene as the NBA’s Rookie of the Year during the strike-shortened 1999 season.
Carter made an All-NBA third team in just his second season (1999-00) and an All-NBA second team the next year (2000-01); he never made an All-NBA team after that despite appearing in eight all-star games throughout his 16-year career (his last one was in 2007).
Those first few years saw him win the Slam Dunk Contest in 2000 (when it still mattered) over cousin Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis (when he still mattered). But a couple years later, after only leading his Raptors to the playoffs during the 2000-01 season — where he missed a potential series-winning three-pointer against Allen Iverson‘s Sixers — it all turned sour for the man nicknamed Vinsanity.
After pouting his way out of Toronto, and later — regrettably — saying he hadn’t played as hard to try and force that trade, Vince played with fellow all-star Jason Kidd in New Jersey, but they never made it past the Conference Semifinals, and Carter’s place as one of the top players in the game was supplanted by a new breed.
He bounced around a bit at that point, landing in Orlando, and failing to help the Magic get further than a 4-2 loss in the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals to the Celtics. He played one abysmal season with the Suns where he spent most of his time prostrate on the court moaning about a touch foul. He was routinely criticized and maligned by the media, and it all seemed like justice.
Then he went to Dallas and became a key cog off the bench, a change in role we wrote about this past season.
When the Mavs were stuck playing the defending Western Conference champions in the first round of the playoffs, it was the oft-critiqued Vince who came through when it mattered most.
His 2013-14 season went so well, even his disgruntled former cronies north of the border thought about bringing him back.
Alas, the Mavs lost Game 7 of that epic first-round series in a blowout, and Carter signed with the Grizzlies — who can use his shooting to space the floor a little more next season.
This wonderful video, entitled in all caps: “LEGENDS NEVER DIE,” tracks Vinsanity’s up-and-down career. The highs were up in the stratosphere, the lows were down in the muck, but Vince’s capacity to recover from whatever his career threw at him has to be applauded.
Should Vince Carter make the Hall of Fame?
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