Vince Carter, one of the greatest superstars in basketball is the first player in NBA history to play in four different decades. In these four decades, he played for eight different NBA teams. These were the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets), the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and now with the Atlanta Hawks.
For this article, the focus will be on the Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets. This is because Carter’s most formidable years were with both the Raptors and the Nets.
Vince Carter’s NBA Legacy
Vince Carter at the 1998 NBA Draft
Raptors Acquiring Vince Carter
The Toronto Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald had secretly wished to sign Carter. They believed that he was the best player in the draft. Additionally, the Golden State Warriors wanted Jamison. The Warriors proposed that the Raptors would select Jamison and the Warriors would choose Carter, then the Warriors would immediately trade the fifth draft pick with compensation to the Toronto Raptors and receive the fourth draft pick. The Warriors did this trade because they like Jamison and did not want anyone else to get him.
Of course, this plan can only work out if the top three teams in the draft had neither Vince Carter or Jamison. If one or both of them were picked in the top three draft picks, the deal would be off.
Fortunately, for both teams, the top three draft picks had neither Jamison or Carter. Michael Olowokandi was picked first by the Los Angeles Clippers. Many people consider Olowokandi one of the worst draft picks in NBA history. Fellow Canadian expansion cousins, the Vancouver Grizzlies (now the Memphis Grizzlies), picked Mike Bibby. Lastly, the Denver Nuggets picked Raef LaFrentz.
Jamison was a good player as he made it to the NBA All-Star Game two times. While he was better than the first three NBA Draft picks, he was nowhere near the level of Vince Carter.
Vince Carter – Toronto Raptors
Carter’s debut was delayed because of the NBA lockout. However, he still made an immediate impact with the Toronto Raptors. He was named Rookie of the Year in the Raptor’s inaugural year. In that season, he scored the first-ever points scored at the Air Canada Centre (now called Scotiabank Arena).
In 1999-00 season, the Raptors would make it to their first-ever NBA playoff appearance. They were swept by the New York Knicks 3-0. This was also the first season where Vince Carter elevated his game. He averaged 27.6 points per game, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.
In the 2000 slam dunk contest, Carter got everyone up their feet with his dunks and ended up winning the dunk contest.
“It’s Over! It’s Over Ladies and Gentlemen!”
The 2000-01 NBA Season was the peak of success for the Toronto Raptors with Vince Carter. That year Carter would be joined by Antonio Davis in the 2001 NBA All-Star Game in Washington D.C. This was Davis’ first and only appearance in an NBA All-Star Game.
Vince Carter’s Last Years with the Toronto Raptors
In this season the Raptors would get revenge against the New York Knicks winning the playoff series 3-2. They would then play the Philadelphia 76ers. This was a tight series. Carter had some incredible games like scoring 50 points in the third Eastern Conference semi-finals game. He was against Allen Iverson, who is another incredible player. Iverson scored 52 points in game 5 to give the 76ers a 3-2 lead over the Raptors.
The game ended with a missed shot from Carter in game 7. If he made that shot they would be going to the Eastern Conference Finals. Instead, the Raptors ended up losing game 7 by a single point, officially ending their season. Many people thought it was the beginning of something big in Toronto. Instead, it was the beginning of the end.
Carter would lead his team into the playoffs in 2001-02 as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. They were eliminated in a tightly contested five-game series against the Detroit Pistons. This would be the last time Vince Carter was in the playoffs as a Toronto Raptor.
The marriage between Carter and the Toronto Raptors ended badly. It is a topic worthy of an article of its own, but both the Raptors and Vince Carter agreed to part ways. He was traded to the New Jersey Nets, where he would join Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson.
New Jersey Nets
It is worth noting that Vince Carter’s points per game dipped in his last year with Toronto. However, when he went to New Jersey his points per game were back to averaging above 25 points per game.
Carter did not have to carry the load for the Nets as he had Jefferson and Kidd as his teammates. They lost in the Eastern Conference semi-finals to the Detroit Pistons in 2004. They were swept by the Miami Heat in 2005. The New Jersey Nets won next year against the Indiana Pacers but would lose again to the Heat.
2007 was an interesting year for the New Jersey Nets. In the playoffs, they would face Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors. Bosh was making his name in Toronto and became a first-time NBA All-Star that year. The Nets would win that playoff series in six games. Carter played quite well in that playoff series scoring the most points of his team in four of those six games. He proved pivotal as the Nets would get past the Raptors in six games.
However, they would again lose in the second round. This time to a rising star in LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately, for Carter and the Nets that would be the final time he would make the playoffs with the Nets. Carter put up some incredible numbers in the next two years but would not be able to make it to the NBA Playoffs.
However, he did have a memorable game against the Toronto Raptors in the 2008-09 season. On November 21, 2008 Carter scored 39 points. This includes a three-pointer to tie the game into overtime and the game-winning dunk to win the game in overtime.
His transition from the New Jersey Nets to the Orlando Magic would be the beginning of his decline from his NBA stardom in Toronto and New Jersey.
Orlando Magic and Beyond
His points per game in his last year with New Jersey was 20.8 points per game. His scoring would go down to 16.6 points per game with the Orlando Magic. These stats continued to drop as he continued his career with the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and now the Atlanta Hawks.
He still has some game in him. Last season, people saw a glimpse of the old Carter as he scored 21 points for the Atlanta Hawks against the Miami Heat. Right now, though he is playing in his last season in the NBA. Expect the eight-time NBA All-Star to appear in Chicago this year as an honorary NBA All-Star. They have done this in the past with Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki.
Legacy of Vince Carter
The only player to appear in all NBA 2K video games starting with NBA 2K for the Sega Dreamcast is Vince Carter. He has many accomplishments in his NBA career. Most notably, he is an eight-time NBA All-Star from 2000-07. He also won the NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1999. He is also an All-NBA Third Team and Slam Dunk Champion in 2000 and an All-NBA Second Team in 2001. Lastly, he received the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in 2016, an award is given to the league’s most ideal teammate. Along with these awards, he has a long legacy with the Toronto Raptors and the NBA.
Vince Carter’s Legacy in the NBA and Canada
Carter’s legacy will be his longevity in the NBA and his impact in the golden age of Canadian basketball. He has played 22 seasons in the NBA, which is the most of anyone. In an AJC article, Carter talks about playing in the NBA for four decades. This includes now playing against Michael Jordan and now playing with Trae Young.
“As much as I talk to people and handshake former teammates that are now GMs, coaches, whatever they are, I can say I played against Michael Jordan and now I’m playing (with) the Trae Youngs, and all the stars of today. I’m just very thankful to still be around and compete at this level,” Carter said.
He has also been a big reason why Canada has the second most players in the NBA, only behind the United States of America.
“Vince Carter was our Michael Jordan,” Thompson said.
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