Former Tar Heel and eight-time NBA All-Star Vince Carter has had a long, successful professional career. He became a legend with the Toronto Raptors that ended in an extremely questionable trade in 2004, and from there had a reasonably large impact on every team he played for during his prime. Heck, even outside of his prime players have loved playing with Carter, as his leadership and knowledge of the game is something that is respected across the league. This year was the end of his contract with Atlanta, and it seemed like this was when Vinsanity would perhaps come to an end.
The funny thing about endings, however, is that they haven’t met Vince Carter.
On Carter’s “Wing It” podcast, he announced that he will be returning to the NBA for the 2019-20 season. His return would mark the 22nd year that he’s played in the league, which would break the record for the longest NBA career of all time. His current 21-year career is only matched by Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish, and Kevin Willis. Carter is currently over the 20,000-point mark for his career, which means he has solidified his place as one of the top 20 scorers in NBA history.
While Carter’s announcement assured that he plans to continue to play, there is still the question of what team will pick him up. He stated that he would like to return to Atlanta, but simply said “We’ll see what happens” when he was asked about it. Should Atlanta not re-sign him to another one-year or longer deal, it’s hard to imagine that another NBA team wouldn’t pick him up.
What’s astounding is not only can Carter still play, but he had a better 2018-19 season than he did during some of his stay with the Memphis Grizzlies. He finished the season averaging 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game, and shot at a 41.9% clip in the 76 games that he played in. His worst season with the Grizzlies? He averaged 5.8 points, 2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game and shot 33.3% from the field in 66 games. His numbers weren’t spectacular this year, but his level of efficiency isn’t too far from what we’ve seen at times throughout his career, and so there’s no great reason to think that every team in the league will pass on helping Carter keep his NBA career alive.
Playing in the NBA for 22 years is a monumental accomplishment, but there is also the huge downside that comes along with it. That’s right, I’m talking about how extremely old he has made all of his fans (including myself) feel. If you, the reader, do not feel old processing the fact that Vince Carter was drafted in 1998, then allow me to assist you with 15 things that happened that year:
- The Chicago Bulls completed their repeat Three-Peat against the Utah Jazz to win their sixth NBA Championship.
- The first Apple iMac was released.
- Google was founded.
- Sex and the City made its television debut.
- The first mainstream MP3 player was released.
- Britney Spears released her debut album.
- Frank Sinatra passed away.
- The first Harry Potter book made its way to the United States.
- Furbies were released, terrifying both parents and children alike for the holidays.
- Pokemon Red and Blue versions released in the United States for the Nintendo Game Boy.
- Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? aired for the first time ever, hosted by Regis Philbin.
- The song “Too Close” by Next was the number one song in the Hot 100 Billboard charts.
- The Nokia 5110 was released, and with it was the birth of the popular cell phone game, Snake.
- France won the World Cup.
- Finally, if you are a college student and you are a member of the Class of 2020, a fair amount of you had just been born. This also means that a huge amount of college students during the 2019-20 school year were not even born yet.
Vince Carter’s NBA career has truly been a blessing to fans across the world. It will be really fun to see not only who lands him for the 2019-20 season, but how long he can keep his career going. He will always and forever be a Tar Heel great, and one of the most exciting players the NBA has ever seen. More importantly, as long as he continues playing, he will never stop making us all feel really, really old.