Chris Wallace: Good afternoon. We’re proud to welcome a player of tremendous distinction in Vince Carter to Memphis and the Grizzlies family today. Vince is the 25th leading scorer in the history of the NBA; that’s obviously quite an achievement when you think of all the thousands of players to make it to this league. He’s played 16 seasons, been an eight-time All Star. He’s seventh in the history of the NBA in made three-pointers. Most recently, he has a distinction of making more three-pointers coming off the bench than any player in the last two years, so he’s done a great job preserving his body and staying productive as he goes through his career and Vince’s value to us is more about making baskets and what he does in the box score. He’s a tremendous leader. He’s very charitable off the court with the Vince Carter foundation and has done great things in whatever city he’s lived in down in Daytona Beach, so without further ado I’d like to welcome, once again, the latest Grizzly Vince Carter.
Vince Carter: Well, first of all, I didn’t think this many people would show up so thanks you all for coming. It’s a great feeling. It’s an honor. I play the game because I enjoy it and I love it and to be rewarded for it is a great feeling. When Coach (Joerger) came to the house as was like "we want to make this happen", it just felt right. You just look at the team and, losing to this team for so many years, particularly the last game—don’t hold it against you Coach. They’re playoff ready, and to see what I’m able to bring to the table. I’m ready to come in and, hopefully, get us over the hump. That’s the goal. Go as far as possible and hopefully to hold up that O’Bryant trophy right here in Memphis, so why not make that the goal.
Question #1: Can you just take us through the factors you considered, beyond the contract, that led you here to Memphis.
Carter: Just opportunity. Like I said, it’s already an established team and you walk into something special. I think, like Chris said about, more-so than basketball, just my leadership. I enjoy being a leader. I’ve been around long enough, ya know. I like to talk, to run my mouth. I like to see the team that I play for do well and prevail, so I think the conversation we had, Coach and I at my house, it just felt right. And I received a couple text messages from a couple of the guys and that’s always a great feeling though. I wanted to come here and just bring who I am on and off the floor to the this team and hopefully, like I said, it gets us over the hump.
Question #2: When you started this process did you imagine a circumstance where Memphis..or did Memphis sorta emerge in this process?
Carter: Let me tell ya, it happened rather quickly. It was just one of those things, you receive an offer… well my agent called and said "hey, Memphis is interested. Here’s what they’re talking about". I was like okay. I think what did it for me was meeting with coach and Joe then talking with Robert and then eventually talking with Chris. You just feel comfortable and I’m all about comfort and what fits, again on and off the court , and I think it was a mutual feeling both ways which made this feel right.
Question #3: [to Joerger] What was, when you walked into his house, your approach in terms of… what was the pitch?
Dave Joerger: Well, what he brings to the table is what we need. He’s a good shooter. He’s a good playmaker. He’s a good leader in our locker room. So all of those things being apart of that, whether he plays as a starter or comes off the bench, who he’s gonna play with, all the kinds of different combinations. I don’t know if people realize it, but he’s one of the top-5, he’s a top-5 pick and roll player in the NBA and still very athletic, still makes open shots, but we want to put him in the situation where we give him the ball and let him do his thing, and for us that’s gonna help us. That’s what we need. We need some playmaking from the wing position. I think that’s really gonna help and certainly he can play off other guys, Marc and Zach inside and Mike Conley playing in pick-and-roll’s and getting in the paint. I think, just overall, he’s an underrated defender. Hi IQ and I think it’s just a really good fit here. To follow up on what Vince was saying a little earlier, it is a credit to our core guys. People want to be here because Mike Conley is a heck of a person and a heck of a point guard. Marc Gasol, one of the best bigs in the league. Zach Randolph, un-guardable in the post, tremendous rebounder. Tony Allen, best perimeter defender in the league, etc. etc. Then you throw in what Robert Pera is able to do and what he’s talking about and what we’re trying to do here in the next couple of years and certainly the experience that Chris has. So it was a big part of, we didn’t come down there with a big video, it was just being comfortable and hanging out and just "here’s the whole picture and here’s what we’ve got". I know that was a really longer answer. Just trying to give perspective to it.
Question #4: At this late stage in your career and after all these great years, what’s your motivation to keep going and how much do you feel you still got left in the tank?
Carter: I definitely feel like I have a lot in the tank. Motivation is the love for the game. I enjoy playing. I enjoy seeing the young guys get better and ask questions. It’s just the camaraderie of it all. That’s what it’s about. I think we look past that some time and we always talk about the money part of it. I mean, you can get the money anywhere, but that don’t mean you’re happy. That don’t mean you love what you’re doing and I enjoy coming to work. Being this age, sometimes you run across a lot of guys who looked up to you in middle school. Now they’re actually trying to guard you in the games. It’s tough. Kids are like "hey I had your poster in my room" and now we’re getting ready to do this jump ball thing. It’s tough to deal with, but at the same time it makes me feel good that I put a lot of work in to stay healthy and still can compete at a high level and appreciated and respected for it.
Question #5: Choosing a small market like Memphis, I mean, you been to Toronto, you been all over the place, you live in Orlando, you’ve seen a lot of things; you mentioned the players, did the small market, did the size of the market have anything to do with it, or is there anything else about Memphis?
Carter: It’s not about, really, the size of the market, it’s about the opportunity. It’s about the feeling you have. I think that’s what meant more than the size of the market. If your team is doing well, eventually somebody’s gonna know about it, so I think that’ll take care of itself. You feel comfortable with the team and you’re winning. More-so to me, I felt like I fit in with this team. Being who I am and bringing a different element to the team that, obviously, they said they needed.
Question #6: You’re running the clock back a little bit, you get to put on #15 again. Are we gonna see some classic Vinsanity?
Carter: Few and far between, but yet you may see a few. That makes sense. But I tell you what, to see that 15, that’s who I am, that’s where it started. It’s a great feeling. When I first saw it I told [Joerger] that’s what I’m talking about. I love it. A long time ago my mother told me pick a number, and you make that number famous, or popular, or whatever. Back at that time, 15, they used to have to order it when I played rec basketball, cause nobody carried 15. It’s me. That’s what I hold to my heart, so I’m glad I’m able to wear it and to do it right here in Memphis.
Question #7: Chris mentioned you preserving your body, can you talk about what you’ve done?
Carter: Can’t tell all my secrets. A lot of people watching. It’s a lot of people watching. But no, just doing the little things. As you get older you kinda listen to your body a little more. When I was younger I didn’t really care. I used to jump, I didn’t care if it was a 7-footer or a 6-footer. It didn’t matter. But it’s all about just being smart. I want to play as long as I can. I made a goal, for some odd reason when I was a rookie, that I wanted to play at least 15 years and I’ve surpassed that. I’m thankful for it. But I just think this, lifting weights, eating right, getting your rest. I lift throughout the year. I do more stretching as I’ve gotten older because sometimes, as you all know—some of you, younger guys might not know—when you wake up in the morning, you hate yourself sometimes and I still fall into that category. So stretching before I go to sleep and waking up, something Dell Curry told me a long time ago which I tried, I said this is just not for me, but I was young and I was vibrant. I could just get around, it didn’t matter, but now it means a lot more and it’s made a difference. I just take care of myself and I do whatever I have to do to make sure I can compete with the young guys though. Pride as well.
Question #8: Have you talked to some of your new teammates already and what kind of conversations have you already had?
Carter: Briefly. A lot of guys are all over the country right now, tending to their family and enjoying their summer, so we had brief conversations. I’ve talked with Mike, Zach, Quincy, Marc… pretty much everybody, just briefly, congratulations, welcome to the team, and just short conversations about the excitement, both ways, and I think what we can accomplish. I think we all have a common goal and we all understand this is a great opportunity for us and I think I’mma bring my work ethic and my love to the game to this team and, what already is established which makes it fun for me, cause them learning me is easier than me learning nine different guys, so it’s gonna be fun. I’m excited about it.
Question #9: You mentioned holding up the trophy and obviously that’s the goal for everybody. It seems out there, a little far-fetched, and yet, is this team, you’ve played this team, and looking at the age of this team, you take comfort when you look at the San Antonio Spurs and see what they’re able to do?
Carter: That’s the first thing I say: there’s a lot of older teams. There’s a very old team that won it last year and right now I feel like we have weapons who can do a little bit of everything. Inside-outside. Pick-and-roll. Post-Ups. Isolation. Whatever you need, so I think once we put it together anything can happen. You just have to get to the playoffs and anything can happen and I always say that because look at Dallas when they won it. I don’t think anybody thought in a million years they would win it that year and they put it together at the right time. And that’s what it’s all about. Understanding each other, being on the same page and being able to put it together at the right time.
Question #10: At this stage in your career you hear a lot of players that are about your age or older talk about wanting to have a shot at chasing a championship and could you just talk a little bit about this stage in your career. You probably could’ve contributed to other, we’ll just say more obvious or sexy picks for championship contender, but clearly you saw something here. Can you kinda talk a little bit about what the championship aspirations are.
Carter: Being comfortable. What makes sense. Being able to mesh with the right group of guys is important to me and all of that with the team that already established, that’s pretty darn good already, that can only get better now, I think that’s the most important thing because it’s easy, and we’ve seen in past, you put dream teams together that don’t necessarily win championships and I can easily go to other teams that are championship ready or made so we feel and not fit in and then it’s like you second guess yourself, so for me I just wanted to go to somewhere where the feeling was mutual and luckily it was a very good team already while doing so. So it was easy talking to a lot of family and friends and, for you guys to know, it was an unanimous decision to be here, so my decision was easy. Joerger: And you did talk about the barbecue when we were down there. Carter: Yeah, couple of my friends said "Aye, what’s the holdup? Great barbecue! Let’s go," so it was great.
Question #11: Two things: what was the role of Robert Pera in this? Did you talk to him and what was Robert Pera’s role in this, and then secondly, do you care if you start? Obviously you were sixth man last year. You think of yourself as a three? As a four? Talk about that.
Carter: Not quite a four, so… I could be a stretch four when need be. Uh, first of all, Robert, great conversation. I mean, it was very laid back. Very honest, upfront, and forward. He just laid it all out there. I kinda did the same, just told him what I was thinking, how I was feeling. At the end of the day, once I finished the conversation with Coach, we’re sitting there talking, and then had nice conversation with Robert, it just felt right, ya know? I just have an awful gut feeling sometime and it felt right. [in regards to position/rose] I’ve done it all, so I would tell them, in front of you guys or behind closed doors, I’ll do whatever I need to do to help this team win and that’s been my goal since day one and it won’t change. Whatever that takes. I could be a starter and play the first two minutes and sit on the bench, It’s all about getting us to where we wanna go and accomplishing the goal. It’s as simple as that.