I think us fans know it is always very hard for any athlete to leave the game, knowing they are either too injury riddled, or just too old to play the game anymore. No one wants that feeling of being useless and having the game pass you by.
Vince Carter was the Toronto Raptors first superstar
, back in 1998, he came in at 22 years old, and was netting 18 /game. Vince had one of the better post up games among shooting guards, using it in Toronto and really mastered it in New Jersey. He had no problem with banging down low, he oftentimes had a much bigger advantage down in the box, being able to fade away, or drive to the basket. He was a powerful leaper with awe inspiring hops, he was a lethal scorer that would leave broken ankles all over the court back in the early 2000’s. Vince was one of the best dunkers to play in the NBA
, and was a ton of fun to watch take it to the hole. When Carter dunked his elbow into the rim during the 2000 Dunk Contest, he was instantly immortalized, making kids try to emulate it on their lowered rims.
Many could say good players like Shawn Kemp, to HOFers like Kevin Garnett and Hakeem Olajuwon, all hung onto the game for too long, some sadly tarnishing their legacies. When Kemp was putting up single digits for his last 3 seasons, Garnett was scoring 3.2 /game at 39, and Olajuwon held on probably 3 years longer than he should have, Vince has been putting up 8 or less for the last 6 seasons. Many former stars often fail to come to grips with their fading talent having a problem letting go of the game, before the game lets go of them. A few rare guys leave with their legacy intact – who were all still useful on the court, and productive still. Tim Duncan was still making an impact for the Spurs during his last year – he was still a top level defender. Vince is there for mentor-ship alone, he has become a liability, and would have been a smarter move if he retired after 36.
Carter is unquestionably athletically blessed, but, if we are being honest, he hasn’t been immune to aging, he has been putting up a sad average of 6.3 ppg since 2014. Many players seem to refuse to let go of the fact that NBA legends are never beating father time, staying around too long, holding on to their mythical reputation. They may be just good enough to play, but they should eventually be replaced by a younger guy who provides more production. Nobody wants to be the old guy being escorted out of the party for being too old. With his obvious lack of explosiveness he finds it far more difficult against far younger and agile players, Vince is no longer breaking ankles, and lighting up scoreboards – we watch him waiting for him to break his own ankle when moving too fast.
It has gotten sad.
He is nothing more than a basic serviceable player on a team. No one has expectations from him going forward, and teams probably like him in the locker room, but, it is probably better to move to more youth, than have him. Vince Carter is no longer the showstopper, or an unstoppable force one on one, from a 25 ppg guy to barely 5 /game. He can’t accelerate anymore, like he was able to many years ago, and take off in the lane and bring it home on the rim on a big man waiting down low. At this point, it seems like he is living off of his legacy of “Vinsanity” – as he is one of my favorite and best dunkers of all time.
While I respect Vince Carter playing in his 40’s – and, of course, it is his own personal decision – but I think it is time to hang up the sneakers.
Vince loves basketball – and that’s ok. But it’s also ok to ride off into the sunset with dignity, not being asked to leave. I would prefer my memories of Vince Carter to be buzzer beaters, big three-balls, and high flying dunks – not a slow old guy who was having a problem scoring 5, and fighting to get off the bench.