Vince Carter’s less than farewell tour: How will Vinsanity be remembered?

NBA Atlanta Hawks Vince Carter (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
NBA Atlanta Hawks Vince Carter (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

In what might be Vince Carter’s final year in the NBA, we look back at how he will be remembered

In the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, Vince Carter went from recent top-five lottery pick to a household name overnight. Everyone in Oakland attending NBA All-Star weekend witnessed firsthand one of the best dunk contest performances of all-time.

Carter’s career much like his playing style took off.

Who knew that 20 years later that same young-high-flying guard playing in Toronto, Canada would still be mentoring and playing alongside some of the brightest and best in the game today.

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At age 41, in his NBA-record 21st season, Atlanta Hawks guard Vince Carter still has gas left in the tank. Over the past five seasons, Vinsanity has been fading away aside from a few highlight plays or a video tribute from a former team.

We’ve seen a couple stars this season receive farewell tours such as Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker, and Dwyane Wade; but Vince Carter won’t be one of them – by choice.

On January 26, Carter will turn 42 and become the sixth oldest NBA player ever to touch the hardwood. The five oldest players in NBA history are:

5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 42 years and 58 days old (Played 20 seasons)

4. Dikembe Mutombo – 42 years and 300 days old (Played 18 seasons)

3. Robert Parish – 43 years and 254 days old (Played 21 seasons)

2. Kevin Willis – 44 years and 224 days old (Played 21 seasons)

1. Nat Hickey – 45 years and 363 days old (1921-1948 as player and coach in the ABA and NBA)

Carter and Nowitzki (40 years) are tied for the longest careers in league history at 21 seasons and counting. Nowitzki, the greatest German basketball player of all-time, is looking to hang up his Hall of Fame career after this season. He will be remembered for his un-guardable shooting style, the reinvention of the fade away, and being with the Dallas Mavericks his entire career.

How will Vince Carter be remembered? Aside from the dunk contest, is he worthy of a Hall of Fame nod?

It’s fair to say Carter is not much of an impact player anymore. Averaging over 10 points or even three rebounds per year isn’t something he’s done since the 2013-14 season with the Dallas Mavericks. Carter can’t guard many 2’s or 3’s anymore and running with the new pace of the NBA, especially with the NBA’s new offensive rebound and shot clock rule change.

He does add value to his respective team because of his veteran leadership and bench depth. That’s been primarily his role with the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings and Hawks over the past five seasons.

In his 21st year, Carter is having a better statistical season than his past five with the Grizzlies (14-17) and Kings (17-18). Carter is averaging nearly 7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1 assist per game for the last-place Hawks.

Vince Carter’s Career Numbers

                               Toronto (98-04)   New Jersey (04-09)   Orlando (09-11)

Games (starts):  403 (401)              374 (369)                       97 (96)
Pts (avg.):            9,420 (23.3)          8,834 (23.6)                  1,577 (16.2)
Reb:                      2,091 (5.1)            2,152 (5.7)                     383 (3.9)
Ast):                     1,553 (3.8)             1,762 (4.7)                     300 (3.0)

Phoenix (10-11)    Dallas (11-14)    Memphis (14-17)

Games: 51 (4)         223 (43)               199 (19)
Pts: 689 (13.5)       2,670 (11.9)        1,365 (6.8)
Reb: 185 (3.6)         823 (3.6)              148 (2.5)
Ast: 82 (1.6)             545 (2.4)              268 (1.3)

Sacramento (17-18)             Atlanta (18-19)

Games: 58 (4)                          42 (8)
Pts: 313 (5.3)                           291  (6.9)
Reb: 138 (2.5)                          115 (2.7)
Ast: 69 (1.1)                               42 (1.0)

Carter plans to play a few more seasons, he’s even hinted at playing until he’s 45, a feat only Nat Hickey achieved. Hickey’s career isn’t very well-known, mostly because it was in the American Basketball Association (ABA). Hickey was an interim coach for the 1948 Providence Steamrollers at 45 years old and checked himself into two games for his 4-25 team. His final game came two days before turning 46.

Imagine that happening in today’s game.

It wouldn’t hurt Vince Carter’s case to be the oldest NBA player in history in order to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Without an NBA Championship, it’s hard to back Carter here. Taking a look at a list of players that have competed into their 40’s, Carter ‘s career numbers and achievements don’t match up to most.

Only 28 players (listed below) have reached 40 years old and played in the NBA. 18 of those have won a title and the remaining 10, including Carter, have never won an NBA Championship. Some familiar names such as Karl Malone and John Stockton appear on that list, but they’ve made the Hall of Fame.

Of these 10 that have never won a title, only 7 players including Carter are still awaiting an invitation to Springfield, Massachusetts: Vince Carter, Andre Miller, Charles Oakley, Cliff Robinson, Danny Schayes, Kurt Thomas and Herb Williams.

NBA Players to reach 40 years old

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar*^, Bob Cousy*^, Vince Carter, Tim Duncan^, James Edwards^, Manu Ginobli^, Nat Hickey^, Grant Hill*, Juwan Howard^, Charles Jones^, Michael Jordan*^, Jason Kidd*^, John Long^, Rick Mahorn^, Karl Malone*, Andre Miller, Dikembe Mutombo*, Steve Nash*, Dirk Nowiztki^, Charles Oakley, Robert Parrish*^, Cliff Robinson, Danny Schayes, John Stockton*, Jason Terry^, Kurt Thomas, Herb Williams, and Kevin Willis^

* Hall of Fame

^ NBA or ABA Championship

Andre Miller is 10th in NBA history in assists (more than LeBron James), Charles Oakley is 22nd in rebounds (more than Dennis Rodman), and Cliff Robinson was the 1993 Rookie of the Year and none of them have made the Hall of Fame. Vince Carter’s top career accolades are winning the 1999 Rookie of the Year, 2000 Slam Dunk Contest Champion and an 8x All-Star all from 2000-2007.

While the statistics are impressive, Carter is currently 22nd on the all-time scoring list and certainly going to crack the top-20 by the end of the season.

In the last five-to-six years, Carter has been mediocre at best when it comes to making an impact in a game. His longevity will be the key to punching his ticket into the Hall of Fame and that may be why he’s still sticking around.

Carter will be a free agent after this season and likely will move on from Atlanta. He figures to have a handful of suitors for at least a veteran’s minimum contract or a tanking team can offer a few million per season for his rental services. His current contract with the Hawks is for one season and $2.39 million. Carter has earned over $169 million in his career, so, on the other hand, he could give into the new era of the league and join a contender for the jewelry.

Related Story. NBA: 7 under-appreciated players whose impact goes beyond the box score. light

It could be time to be selfish and bolt for a deep bench role with a contender to top off his career with a ring. Thinking over Vinsanity’s career for what it was: he’s one of the most intimidating, thunderous, and nimble dunkers ever to play the game.

Is that enough to land him in the Hall of Fame one day if he never wins an NBA title?