With the off-season here, and a pending lockout coming, it is very possible that there won’t be much to talk about for some time. As such, I’m preparing in advance by discussing pointless NBA related stories, varying from amusing to sentimental. Today, I look back on my memories of Vince Carter, and coerce a parallel between his career with his Twitter page. Apparently, that’s possible – or at least I hope so.
Vince Carter was one of my favorite players from 1998 until around 2002. This past year, people were enamoured with Blake Griffin’s dunks (which were undoubtedly awesome). However, at 6-7, Vince not only had Blake’s dunking power, but also had a greater arsenal of creativity in his dunks, in addition to being a more complete player. Whether it was dunks (one of my favorite unheralded dunks of all time), game-winners, three pointers, or passing ability, Vince was undoubtedly a franchise player early in his career. With his presence alone, he managed to infuse life back into a franchise that had finished the season before his arrival with a 16-66 record.
Being from Toronto, I followed Vince’s career very closely during his time here. From scoring 39 over Duncan and the Spurs in 2000 (and dunking over The Admiral), to dropping 51 in the Raptors’ first ever nationally televised game against the Suns, Carter was my hero at 11 years old. I even imitated his free throw shooting routine when I played basketball.
Likewise, Toronto loved him, and many probably still do (we boo cause we love?). I still root for him to succeed as a player because he truly put the Raptors on the map and largely defined my childhood in the process. No, we haven’t seen a franchise player like him since (Bargnani and Bosh were never franchise players), and no, the Raptors haven’t been the same since his departure. To deny Vince’s impact in Toronto is to fail in understanding that we booed him because like Cleveland with Lebron James, he had a profound influence on the city.
Of course, injuries piled up, and Carter’s laziness and lackadaisical attitude to the game of basketball ultimately took its toll. Somewhere along the way, Vince Carter went from being a likely certified HOF player, to likely concluding his career as one of the most underachieving players in the history of the NBA. He had the tools to become better than Kobe Bryant. I say that because there was a time, specifically in his second and third seasons, that Vince was better or equal to Kobe Bryant. Check Carter’s 2001 numbers of 27 points, 4 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1.5 steals per game – he was an MVP candidate. However, Kobe continued to rise his game and was driven to be the best in the league.
Carter, meanwhile, never reached up to the potential that WE saw in him. My only guess is that he didn’t see it in himself. More sadly, for one of the most gifted athletes in the history of the league – someone who had the potential to be the best player of his generation – basketball was likely just a means to an end.
Which brings me to this post. After he got traded to Orlando, I really thought Vince would finally redeem himself and show the world what I had seen in him all those years ago in Toronto – a greatly gifted player who was largely misunderstood.
He did not.
Instead, the Magic traded him after one season for Hedo freaking Turkolgu, who was essentially the laziest player on the 2009-2010 Raptors and a waste of cap space.
Now in Phoenix, VC is essentially in NBA purgatory (sorry, Steve). After a career filled with disappointment, he has even gone from the classic #15 jersey that I’ll always remember him by to an ugly #25 (seriously, just look at it) that seems disconnected, out of place. Likewise, he went from being that dude who sold out arenas to rocking an awkward-looking beard and being a largely irrelevant player in the NBA.
I reached out to Vince on Twitter the other day, telling him that he was my favourite player growing up and that I thought Toronto should retire his jersey. I said it because I believed it, and because he was huge reason (along with Bryant) that I became the hoops junkie that I am). He never replied or retweeted my post, which is understandable – I’m sure he has tons of other posts to attend to (Hilarious side note: most of Carter’s tweets are directed at rap-video models with cool names like CINNABUNNS and Scarlett.Who can blame him? Half-man Half-Casanova!).
I’m not here to judge Vince Carter on who he tweets or what he tweets about. Through his Twitter page, however, all I wanted to see was that Vince at least has some passion left in him for basketball (and not just hitting up women). You’ll notice it with pretty much every other NBA player’s Twitter feed – the words “gym”, and “shooting” always appear, as does general basketball observations.
Vince’s Twitter feed, surprisingly, seems less like that of a basketball (especially dunk) legend and more of a guy who has lots of time on his hands. No tweets about hitting up the gym, no tweets about the NBA Finals. Instead, there’s lots of tweets to video vixens.
Unfortunately, that realization essentially sums up Carter’s career as a basketball player. The talent was always there, but the passion essentially eroded after 3 years and one major setback (his “jumper’s knee” injury in 2001-2002).
Just before I was about to close his Twitter feed however, I saw this, and it concludes what I always thought was true: it seems that VC misses the glory years of limitless potential just like the rest of us.