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Breaking Down Vince Carter’s Career: The Best Dunker In NBA History

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Breaking Down Vince Carter’s Career: The Best Dunker In NBA History

When Vince Carter entered the league, he was regarded as one of the most electrifying athletes in the league. He was considered by some of his peers as the most talented basketball player ever. By the time his career ended, he became the oldest player in the league. He remains the only player in NBA history to play 22 seasons and in four different decades from his debut in 1999 to his retirement in 2020.

With his healing abilities and slam dunks, he developed some special names over time such as “Vinsanity,” “Air Canada”, and “Half Man, Half Amazing.” He remains regarded as the best dunker of all time. He was also a prolific three-point shooter, having made the sixth-most three-point field goals in league history at the time of his retirement.

Carter might be gone for now, but we will always remember his greatness. “Vinsanity” will always be remembered. Let’s keep remembering him as we take a look back on his long career.

Vince Carter’s Career: NBA Honors and Awards: 8x All-Star (2000-2007), All-NBA Second Team (2001), All-NBA Third Team (2000), Rookie of the Year (1999), All-Rookie First Team (1999), Slam Dunk Contest Champion (2000), Sportsmanship Award (2020), Teammate of the Year (2016)


Toronto Raptors 1998-2004

Vince Carter

Carter was initially drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the No. 7 overall pick in 1998, but he was traded to the Raptors for Antawn Jamison, his former college teammate, and friend. Due to the lockout, Carter didn’t play in a game until 1999. In the team’s first three years of existence, the team struggled. Carter was instrumental in leading the Raptors to their first-ever playoff appearance in 2000 before winning their first series in 2001.

Carter’s rookie season saw him win Rookie of the Year and transcend to stardom his following season. He averaged 25.7 points per game, which was the fourth-highest in the league. He participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, which remains the most memorable contest of all time. His array of dunks included a 360-degree windmill, a between the legs bounce dunk, and an “elbow in the rim” dunk (the cookie jar). Carter won the contest with ease.

In his third season, Carter averaged a career-high 27.6 points and made All-NBA Second Team. He was voted a starter for the All-Star Game and helped the team win a then franchise record 47 wins. The Raptors made the second round but were bounced by MVP Allen Iverson and the 76ers. Carter and Iverson dominated the series, which saw Carter score 50 points in Game 3 and set an NBA record for three-point field goals in a playoff game. After the season, Carter signed a six-year extension.

The following year, Carter joined Charles Barkley as the only two players to ever finish a game with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and five steals dating back to 1973-1974. Carter missed the first 22 games of the season due to injuries, a theme that followed him into his later years with Toronto. In 2002-2003, Carter played in 43 games and had to give up his starting spot in the All-Star Game to Michael Jordan. In 2003-2004, Carter played in 73 games, but the team failed to make the playoffs.


New Jersey Nets 2004-2009

Vince Carter

During the 2004 offseason, general manager Glen Grunwald and the entire coaching staff were fired. Carter became frustrated with the upper management and wanted Julius Erving to be named general manager. Instead, Erving was never considered and the team hired Rob Babcock, who wanted to rebuild the Raptors and not make an immediate contender. Consequently, Carter wanted a trade.

The fanbase tried to unite and steer his decision-making. Babcock initially denied the trade request, but eventually gave in on December 17, 2004, when he traded Carter to the Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams, and two first-round draft picks. In his first game back in Toronto, Carter was heavily booed and jeered by fans. Some fans burned his jerseys.

Carter produced some of his highest numbers with the Nets, averaging 23.6 points during his tenure. From 2005 to 2007, Carter remained healthy and missed only 11 games as he led the team to three straight playoff appearances. Carter, along with Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, proved to be a formidable big three.

In 2005-2006, the Nets won the Atlantic Division and helped the Nets make the second round of the playoffs. Despite losing to the eventual champion Heat, Carter averaged 29.6 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in 11 playoff games. The following year, Carter and Kidd became the first teammates in over 18 years to record triple-doubles in the same game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen did in 1989. Carter finished with 45 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists, while Kidd had 10 points, 16 rebounds, and 18 assists.

In the offseason, Carter resigned with the Nets on a four-year deal. The following year, Kidd was traded to the Mavericks. Carter became the captain of the Nets, while he and Devin Harris eventually became the highest scoring starting backcourt in the league in 2008-2009. His highlight this season came when he scored 39 points, including a go-ahead reverse dunk to end an 18-point comeback against the Raptors as the Nets would win 129-127 in overtime.


Orlando Magic 2009-2010

Vince Carter

In the 2009 offseason, Carter was traded with Ryan Anderson to the Magic for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie, and Courtney Lee. Orlando thought that Carter would help All-Star center Dwight Howard with perimeter scoring while creating his shot. The Magic were coming off an appearance in the NBA Finals.

Carter’s best game came against the Hornets where he recorded 48 points, including 34 in the second half to rally back from 17 points down. Carter helped the Magic make the Eastern Conference Finals before the Magic lost to the Celtics in six games. This would be the only time that Carter would play in the Conference Finals.


Phoenix Suns 2010-2011

Vince Carter

On December 18, 2010, Carter was acquired by the Suns in a six-player trade with the Magic. Carter was acquired, along with Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, $3 million, and a first-round draft pick in exchange for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Earl Clark. During the season, Carter reached 20,000 career points, becoming the 37th NBA player to reach that mark in his career.

After the season, the Suns finished 40-42. Carter was waived by three Suns, meaning that the team only had to pay him $4 million of his $18 million salaries. It was just days later that he would find his new team.


Dallas Mavericks 2011-2014

Vince Carter

Just three days after being waived, Carter signed a three-year contract with the defending NBA champion Mavericks. This move reunited him with Jason Kidd. In his first season, Carter became the eighth player in NBA history with 1,500 career three-pointers. It was his outside shooting that developed over time with the Mavericks, not his patented circus dunks.

Carter would see plenty of highs during his tenure with the Mavericks. That included passing Larry Bird on the career scoring list. He would score 162 three-point shots in a season, which tied a career-high he did in Toronto. He finished the 2012-2013 season 27th on the all-time scoring list. Going into the 2013-2014 season, Carter established himself as the team’s sixth man after Jason Terry departed.

He averaged 10.5 points and shot 37.6% from the field during the first 22 games. He had more responsibility with Terry’s departure but saw his numbers steadily improve through the year. By the end of the year, the Mavericks made the playoffs, but his playoff woes continued as the Mavericks were bounced by the top-seeded Spurs in seven games.


Memphis Grizzlies 2014-2017

Vince Carter

In the 2014 offseason, Carter signed a multi-year deal with the Grizzlies. Carter showed the town he still “had it” when he made a game-winning alley-oop assist to Courtney Lee at the buzzer in a 111-110 win over the Kings. Carter’s season-high was 18 points, but the best moment came when he made a return to Toronto.

Nearly a decade after the trade, Carter was a part of the team’s 20th-anniversary celebration. The franchise played a tribute video to Carter. The sellout crowd watched the video and gave Carter a standing ovation. Carter was seen as emotional when he was wiping away tears using his warmup.

In 2015-2016, Carter won Teammate of the Year, an award deemed to the best teammate who is selfless, on and off the court. By this time, Carter had embraced the role as a mentor and role model. Carter was still finding his way into games though. He would make his way into the top-25 for games played in the NBA, as well as pass players like Gary Payton, Charles Oakley, and Kidd in various categories.

In his final year, Crater became the oldest player to start an NBA game at 40 since Juwan Howard in 2013. At 40 years, 46 days, he also became the oldest player to his six triples in one game. Carter passed Ray Allen on the three-point rankings, as well as passed Kobe Bryant for 13th on the regular season games played standings.


Sacramento Kings 2017-2018

Vince Carter

In the offseason, Carter signed a one-year deal with the Kings. In August, he was named the Most Influential Veteran by the NBA Players Association. Carter missed seven games due to a kidney stone but eventually came back to score a season-high 24 points. It was the first time a 40-year old reserve scored at least 20 points in a game. His 10-of-12 shooting was also the second-highest of his career.

On January 28, 2018, Carter and Manu Ginobili scored 21 and 15 points. It was the first time two players at least 40 or older scored at least 15 points. Carter would eventually pass Patrick Ewing on the all-time scoring list and was named the NBA's Backbone Award and Most Respected Award recipient.


Atlanta Hawks 2018-2020

Vince Carter

When the Hawks rebuilding, Carter remained with the team as an influence. Carter became the second-oldest player in NBA history at 41 years and 264 days to start a game. Only Robert Parish (42 years, 65 days) was an older opening-night starter. Later in the season, Carter reached his 25,000th career point. In December, Carter scored a team-high 21 points and officially became the oldest player in league history to lead his team in scoring, a record that was held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Carter enjoyed many highs this season, passing Jerry West and Reggie Miller. on the all-time standings. On March 1, 2019, he logged the most minutes for the Hawks in a 168-161 quadruple overtime loss to the Bulls. At 42 years old, he became the oldest player to play at least 45 minutes in a game.

In his final season, Carter stated he was planning on retiring at the end of the season. During the season, Carter became the fifth player in NBA history to play at least 1,500 games. He eventually moved past Alex English in scoring and Dirk Nowitzki for third in games played. On March 11, 2020, against the Knicks, Carter returned to the floor in the final seconds and made a three-pointer. It turned out to be his final shot made as the NBA suspended the rest of the season on that day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hawks were not invited to finish the season in the bubble. 

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