When Vince Carter signed a 1-year deal with the Atlanta Hawks, it made this his 21st season in the NBA. Can we take a moment and raise a glass to this man? His career can finally hit the clubs, get turned away at the door, end up at a dive bar around the corner, before heading home to order pizza and pass out before it arrives.1This isn’t based on personal experience.
That 1998 draft seems so long ago.2Like 21 years ago. Fun fact: did you know that he was originally drafted with the #5 pick by the Golden State Warriors? Only to be traded immediately to the Raptors for their #4 pick (Antawn Jamison)? Why the Raptors didn’t just pick Vince to begin with is anyone’s guess. Here are our well thought out, best guesses:
1) David Stern got handed a card that said the Raptors first choice was Vince Carter, but saw their second choice was Antawn Jamison and thought their second choice was actually their first choice.3There’s no way this could ever happen. I must be in La La Land Moonlighting as a writer.
2) The Raptors, still new to the NBA, decided to have all of their executives write down their choice on a card. Then they held up their choices and counted. Vince Carter had the most votes. They wrote his name on a card and gave it to an intern to bring to David Stern. BUT, this is where the story gets interesting, the intern was from Duke. The intern decided to switch out the correct card for Antawn Jamison to screw over the Raptors for drafting someone from UNC. This is the origin story for the Duke/UNC rivalry.
3) The Raptors top executive asked his wife who he should draft, Vince Carter or Antawn Jamison? His wife responded by saying, “I don’t know. They both sound like good options. Whatever you decide will be fine.” With the clock winding down, the executive decided to pick Antawn Jamison and had David Stern announce the pick. The executive then told his wife who he picked and she responded, “Oh. I didn’t want you to pick Antawn Jamison. I wanted Vince Carter.” Thus, leading to the immediate trade request.4This guess was loosely based on personal experience. It also seems like the most probable.
One of these guesses is definitely what happened.5It’s not.
Vince has had a great career. He’s now the oldest active player in the NBA. And since his new teammate, Trae Young, wasn’t even born when Vince was drafted, we felt the need to educate the newcomer(s). We’ve given you the history lesson on the 1998 draft. Now, it’s time to look at some of the major moments that occurred during Vince’s 21 years in the league. Take notes, Trae. You got a lot to learn.
The Internet was created in 1998. That’s right. The Internet. Okay, technically the Internet was around before 1998, but not Google. And sure, Google technically began in 1996, but it wasn’t really a thing until 1998. And because Google is basically the Internet, the Internet was created in 1998. How did we ever get by in school before Google? Also, Vince was drafted into the NBA in 1998. Are the two connected? Probably not, but are we really sure they aren’t?
The NBA had a lockout, which led to a shortened season. Vince won Rookie of the Year and got the nickname “Air Canada” because he took flight more often than the actual airline. Dell Curry also joined the Raptors in 1999 and Vince started playing basketball with Steph Curry, who was around 10/11 at the time. Who’s to say that Vince wasn’t responsible for Steph’s future success?
Y2K! This was the original break the Internet. It was supposed to be the end of computers and civilization as we knew it. Miraculously, nothing happened and we all survived. Well, everyone except for Frederic Weis. Who is that? (Which is definitely what you are asking.) Just Google his name.
Actually, I can’t help it. In the 2000 Summer Olympics, the US was playing a basketball game against France. This dude, Frederic Weis, is 7’2”. So tall. That is, until Vince decided that he wasn’t that tall, dribbled towards him and jumped over him (literally) and dunked it. The French media called it “le dunk de la mort.”6This is French for “the dunk of death.” The French media are ruthless Sorry, Frederic, not everyone could make it out of 2000 alive. Oh, and Team USA and Vince won the Gold medal.
Forgot to mention that Vince participated and won the 2000 Slam Dunk contest. It was one of the greatest Slam Dunk contests of all time. 360 reverse windmills. A through the legs bounce alley oop. A honey dip, cookie jar, elbow in the rim dunk.7This paragraph just sounds like a bunch of random words put together. Sort of like the scene in Friends with Benefits when Shaun White bumps into a table and Justin Timberlake’s character says, “Hey bro, that was like a double mctwist 1260.” They are all real words though.
We also can’t forget The Nike Shox, Vince’s signature shoe, were introduced to the world. This was a huge moment in the shoe industry, but it also gave us an amazing commercial that showed Vince saving a cat from a tree, stopping a robbery, and wearing a tear-away purple suit. It’s incredible and on YouTube, so do yourself a favor and watch it.
He also made his first All-Star team. I would say 2000 was a pretty good year for Vince.
Vince officially graduated from UNC. To be honest, I had no idea he did this. Pretty impressive considering he was playing basketball in the NBA at the same time he was finishing his classes. No big deal. It’s even more surprising now because UNC doesn’t even make their student-athletes go to classes anymore.8Too soon?
Who could forget when Vince made his movie debut in the classic film, Like Mike. Bow Wow might have got the best of him, but Vince and the Raptors were used in the final moments of the movie as the team standing between victory and defeat. Glory and failure. A role regularly reserved for teams or people that are considered to be unstoppable/unbeatable.9Think about it. In Space Jam, it was the Monstars. In Rookie of the Year, it was Heddo and the NY Mets. In Angels in the Outfield, it was Parkman and the Chicago White Sox. In Major League, it was the NY Yankees. In Little Big League, it was Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, and the Mariners. In Rocky, it was Apollo Creed, Mr. T, and Drago. Just a few examples of many. And villains are way more interesting anyway.
Facebook officially launched. Myspace was cool. Facebook was cooler. Why? No one knows. It was basically the same thing and Myspace was actually better. Either way, the new, but not really new, way of connecting on the Internet was born. Instead of making friends in real life, you could now be friends with your friends on the Internet. And say things to them, virtually. And tell people what you were thinking or doing, virtually. I know it doesn’t sound like much, and you’re right. But, how else would I know when someone’s birthday is? Or all the games my family members are currently playing?
Status update. Vince Carter is I’m going to be on the cover of NBA Live 2004! Status update. Vince Carter is just got traded to the New Jersey Nets. Status update. Vince Carter is can’t wait to play with Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson.10I know this paragraph seems like I don’t know how to write and while that may be true, do you remember when Facebook made you start all of your statuses with “is”? Well I do and it sucked.
Barack Obama became the first black President.11We miss you! Come back! Coincidentally, Vince also became captain of the Nets. Which, is basically like being the President of your team.
2009 – Present
Now this is when “Air Canada” started traveling. Making stops in Orlando to visit Disney. Phoenix to see the Grand Canyon. Dallas to watch the Cowboys play. Memphis to hear some country music. Before landing in Sacramento to….play basketball.12What is there to do in Sacramento?
Some of the major accomplishments during this time:
2011 – Bin Laden was killed.
2012 – Vince became the 8th player in NBA history to hit 1,500 3-pointers. Obama was also reelected.13Seriously, come back!
2015 – Same-sex marriage was legalized in the US.
2016 – Vince won the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of Year14I had no idea this was an actual award. award.
2019 – Vince is currently 22nd on the all-time scoring list.
He’s accomplished more than everything I’ve mentioned here. This is more of an abbreviated history. Is Vince one of the most important players in NBA history? Maybe. I just provided facts of things that happened while he was in the NBA. Would they have happened no matter what? We may never know. Did he help do everything I mentioned? Probably not. Did I mention a bunch of random events in history to try and highlight Vince’s impact? Stop asking so many questions.
Let’s just enjoy the treasure that is Vince Carter for as long as we can. He inspired new generations of players from all over the world. He changed the city of Toronto forever. And he changed the NBA. Thank you for playing basketball, Vince. Drinks are on us.