On Saturday, January 4th, 2020, at 6 minutes and 30 seconds in the first quarter, 42-year-old Vince Carter checked in for the Atlanta Hawks. The State Farm Arena got on its feet and gave Carter a standing ovation, as he was now officially the only player in NBA history to play in 4 different decades.
Growing up, I had a lot of favorite players. Players such as Allen Iverson, Paul Pierce, and Vince Carter. So, with this very special achievement, I wanted to take a look at some of Carter’s best moments in his career. So here are some of the best moments from the career of Half-Man, Half-Amazing.
Carter was drafted 5th overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1998 NBA draft. Carter was then traded to the Toronto Raptors for a fourth-round pick, and (coincidentally) his college teammate and good friend Antawn Jamison. The Raptors were a relatively new franchise, only being in the league for 3 years to that point, and those 3 years were rocky to say the least. Trading for Vince Carter would change the losing ways of the Raptors right away.
With the NBA suffering a lockout, Carter’s rookie year wouldn’t officially begin until February of 1999. His first NBA game was against the Boston Celtics, where Air Canada scored 16 points, with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. His rookie year, Carter would score over 20 points 23 times out of the 50 games the Raptors had played.
On March 25th, 1999 in a game against the Houston Rockets, Carter scored his then career-high 32 points with 6 assists. Carter would finish his rookie year averaging 18.3 points a game with a .450 FG%. His stat line was enough to earn him NBA Rookie of the Year honors, beating out Jason Williams and Paul Pierce. Vince Carter burst onto the scene in a big way, and it was only the beginning for VC.
2000 NBA All-Star Weekend
In just his second year in the association, Vince Carter was elected to his first NBA All-Star Game. Carter garnered the most votes for any player that year with 1,911,973 votes, beating out stars such as Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’Neal, and Allen Iverson. The day before the All-Star Game, was the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, and it’s still considered one of the greatest Slam Dunk Contests of all time.
The NBA Dunk Contest wasn’t what it used to be. It used to include players such as Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Spud Webb, but many fans had lost interest…until Carter participated. Vince Carter was in the contest alongside his cousin (and teammate) Tracy McGrady, Steve Francis, and Jerry Stackhouse among others. What ended up taking place was an insane showdown between Carter, McGrady, and Francis.
All 3 put on an absolutely fantastic contest. But for Carter, it was arguably the greatest performance of any dunker in the dunk contest. His first dunk was a reverse 360 that scored a perfect 50. For his second dunk, Carter started behind the basket and began running towards half-court. Carter stopped, jumped up and turned towards the basket, windmilling the ball in. All judges scored it a 10, except Kenny Smith who scored it a 9.
His third dunk was the picture I had hanging on my wall when I was a kid. With his cousin McGrady under the basket, Carter ran and T-Mac bounced the ball into the air. Carter grabbed the ball with his left hand and passed it under his legs to his right hand before jamming the ball through the basket. The dunk was, yet again, a perfect 50. His first dunk in the next round was something we never saw before. Carter approached the basket from the right and jumped into the air with the ball waaaay above the rim and jammed it through. However, Carter stuck his whole arm up to his elbow in the basket, and just hung there by the inside of his elbow.
For his final dunk, Carter needed 42 pints to win the contest. He started clear on the other end of the floor, ran towards the basket and jumped just a step inside the free-throw line for a two-handed jam. Carter got the 42 points he needed and walked out of Oakland holding the Slam Dunk Contest trophy and giving us a Slam Dunk Contest for the ages.
2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals
Before Vince Carter, the Raptors had yet to appear in the NBA playoffs. The team made the 2000 NBA playoffs, however, were swept by the New York Knicks. The following year saw the Raptors square off with the Knicks once again, this time the Raptors would defeat the Knicks 3-2, earning the franchise’s first playoff series victory.
After defeating the New York Knicks in 6 games, the Toronto Raptors had a date with Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The series would go 7 games, as both Vince Carter and Allen Iverson put on a magnificent series. As you can see below, both players had 50 point games during the series in a legitimate back and forth series. In Game 3, with VC’s 50 point game, he set an NBA record for most three-pointers made in an NBA playoff game with 9.
In Game 7, the 76ers lead the Raptors 88-87 and with 2 seconds left Vince Carter missed a shot from 19 feet that lost the game and the series. Many around the league blamed the fact that Carter attended his graduation ceremony at North Carolina just hours before the game, but without Vince Carter, the Raptors wouldn’t even be in the Eastern Conference semis.
2007 NBA Playoffs
The first playoff meeting between the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets was definitely one to remember. One of the biggest stories was the fact that Vince Carter was now facing his former team, the Toronto Raptors after a bad break up between him and the team.
It was so bad for Carter, that every time he touched the ball in Toronto, the crowd booed him with everything in their might. The two teams would split the first two games in Toronto, but when the series shifted to New Jersey, it was a completely different story. In Game 3, behind 37 points by Vinsanity, the Nets defeated the Raptors by 13, and in Game 4, with VC scoring 27 points, the Nets beat the Raptors by 21 points.
The Nets would drop Game 5 in Toronto but returned to New Jersey for Game 6 and defeated the Toronto Raptors 98-97. Even though the Nets ended up being defeated by the Lebron James lead Cleveland Cavaliers, this was a huge playoff for Carter, as he showed his former team that he was the reason for their success. Carter averaged 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in the series.
Vince Carter made Frederic Weis’ name a household name among basketball fans. During the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Carter performed one of the most impressive dunks in basketball history. Carter was actually left off the 2000 Olmypic Team, and was an injury replacement right at the last second.
In a game against France, Carter had a nearly perfect game, shooting 6 of 7, scoring 13 points in 13 minutes. Then, it happened. As Gary Payton drove to the bucket and missed a layup, Vin Baker attempted to perform a putback but missed. As USA players ran back in transition, one of France’s players grabbed the ball around the free-throw line and attempted a behind the back outlet pass.
Carter intercepted the pass by the left wing, then began running for the basket. The only line of defense was 7’2” Frederic Weis. No matter for Carter, however, as he jumped clear over Weis, jamming the ball through the hoop. France called a timeout, and Weis, who looked like he had just been concussed, moseyed on over to the bench and was replaced when play resumed.
The dunk is probably one of the most replayed dunks on YouTube, and will always be considered as one of the greatest dunks in not only Carter’s career but in NBA history.
Vince Carter may not have won an NBA Championship, but he is more than likely a Hall of Famer for his play alone. He is an 8-time All-Star, a member of the 2001 All-NBA Second Team, and the 2000 All-NBA Third Team. No matter if you call him VC, Vinsanity, Air Canada or Half-Man, Half-Amazing, Vince Carter is one of the greatest dunkers in NBA history, right alongside Dominique Wilkins, and I for one am very glad I got to see him play across 4 decades.
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