Vince Carter is a legend, a hall of famer on most people’s ballots. He has been one of the biggest names to come through Memphis since the team’s arrival in 2001. Oh, and he is also the oldest active player in the NBA at a measly 40 years old.
Time flies when you’re having fun, for everyone involved. It has been fun to see Vince Carter’s career mature through the years, and boy have we loved him in Memphis. With the recent news that Chandler Parsons will be out the remainder of the season, Vince Carter will likely start at the small forward position. That’s right, a 40 year old starting small forward, and that’s kind of, sort of not out of desperation.
So let’s get to know Vince because we will be seeing a lot more of him in the near future.
Carter was born on January 26, 1977 in Daytona Beach, Florida where he grew up most of his life. He was a 1995 McDonald’s All-American his senior year of high school. (Carter was honored as one of the greatest 35 McDonald’s All-Americans in 2012.) He won a state title at Mainland High School, their first in 56 years.
Carter decided to attend college at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was Tar Heel for three seasons, winning two consecutive ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament titles. Both years he won the ACC Tournament, he went to the Final Four. In his final year, the 1997-98 season, Carter averaged 15.6 points per game for the Tar Heels and declared for the NBA draft. He went pro along with his teammate Antawn Jamison; Jamison was named the player of the year for the 1998 season.
Vince Carter actually finished his degree at UNC Chapel Hill, he continued his coursework during his NBA career and graduated with a degree in African-American studies in 2000.
Carter was drafted by the Golden State Warriors as the fifth pick overall in 1998. He was then traded to the Toronto Raptors on draft day for former college teammate Antawn Jamison, who was selected fourth overall by Toronto. The rest is history. Carter’s career with Toronto would last until 2004; his seven years here were the longest he spent with any team.
Vince Carter was the 1999 Rookie of the Year, he averaged 18.3 points per game his rookie season. The next year the Raptors would make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, led by Carter’s 25.7 points per game (just his sophomore season). He made the All-Star team for the first time in this 2000 season, where he also competed in the dunk contest.
Yep, this is the dunk contest you remember from Vince Carter. He won. After this season, Tracy McGrady would be traded to Orlando, leaving Carter as the team’s unanimous first option.
Following the 2000 season, Carter joined the USA Men’s National Basketball Team. And of course, this is when he jumped over a 7-foot-2 human being. The U.S. team won gold that year and Carter averaged 14.8 points per game with the national team.
The 2000-01 season, Carter’s third, was statistically his best season in terms of points. He averaged 27.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. In this season, the Raptors would make the playoffs for the second season in a row. In those playoffs, Carter set a record for most three pointers in an NBA playoff game with nine against the Allen Iverson led Philadelphia 76ers. (Klay Thompson has since broken that record with 11 against the OKC Thunder in 2016.)
During his tenure with the Raptors, Carter only had one season (his rookie season) where he averaged below 20 points per game, overall he averaged 23.4 points per game as a Raptors. He is still the Raptors all-time leader in points per game and was recently passed by DeMar DeRozan for most points all time as a Raptor. Carter was named to the All-Star team five times in Toronto (2000-2004) and two All-NBA teams (2000 All-NBA 3rd team, 2001 All-NBA 2nd team).
On December 18, 2004, after a rough start to the 2004-05 season with the Raptors, Carter was traded to the New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams, and two first-round draft picks. (Vince Carter was not received well in Toronto after his departure until the 2014 season return, when they honored him pregame.)
As a Net, Carter averaged career highs in rebounds (5.8) and assists (4.7) per game. He also only missed 11 total games in four seasons. Fun fact: Carter is currently in the top 10 of nineteen different all-time Nets statistical categories, I will not list all nineteen, but you get the point. As a Net, Carter matched his career high with 51 points in a 2005 game against the Miami Heat. In that game, Carter set a record (which he still holds) for most free throws made in a quarter with 16.
Vince Carter concluded his career with the New Jersey Nets scoring 23.8 points per game over five seasons and was named an All-Star three times (2005-2007).
He was traded on the day of the 2009 NBA draft to the Orlando Magic along with teammate Ryan Anderson for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and future teammate Courtney Lee. He would play alongside Dwight Howard for two seasons and averaged 16.3 points per game with Orlando.
In December of the 2010-11 season, Carter was traded to the Phoenix Suns in a deal that involved seven players and $3 million in cash. As a Sun, Carter scored his 20,000th point, one of only 41 to reach this feat. (Guess who is number 41. Antawn Jamison.) Carter only played one season with Phoenix, he averaged 13.5 points through 51 games. He would become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2011 season.
He then signed with the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, where he played for three seasons. He was reunited with his former Nets teammate, Jason Kidd, in Dallas and played well off the bench for much of his Mavs career. He averaged 12 points per game as a Maverick.
And now Vince Carter is a Grizzly. He signed a multi-year deal with the Grizzlies in 2014. He has played three seasons in Memphis and only started 6 total games. That number will climb in the near future. Just a few days ago, Carter became the only 40 year old to score 24 points in a game since Michael Jordan, proving he can still play with the elites in the NBA. Carter has stayed healthy through strict care of his body; he told Bleacher Report that he doesn’t even ride the team bus to and from games, he gets his own car. He gets there so early to prepare for the game, no one else wants to ride with him.
Carter is currently 23rd on the NBA all-time scoring list with 24,448 points (and counting) and is the third most in points for current active players. He has made 2,026 threes in his career, that’s good for fifth all-time. Ironically, he is tied with Kyle Korver and Jamal Crawford, both of whom are active players, with the same number of made threes.
Vince Carter has been a fan favorite for most of his career. He has been great on and off the court, wowing crowds with never-before seen dunks and athleticism. He is still grinding at 40 years old, and that’s why Memphis loves him so much. The dunks are like solar eclipses these days, few and far between, but the passion and leadership are a staple from Vince.
What people don’t see, that’s what Carter brings to this team. He will be asked to bring more statistically in the coming weeks of this NBA season, and I believe the veteran is up for the task.