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Vince Carter: The Biography Of The Greatest Dunker In NBA History

Vince Carter: The Story Of How Vinsanity Became A Great Teammate And Excellent Role Player

The date was February 11, 2000, and the NBA world was gathered at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. The reason? To watch the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.

The fans and NBA community were there to watch one player in particular... Vince Carter. The reason for this was because of the high-flying and acrobatic dunks Carter routinely made during NBA games.

The Slam Dunk contest hadn't been around since 1997, as the NBA opted to scrap the event and add the new WNBA-NBA 2Ball Contest. Then, in 1999, the season saw a lockout, and All-Star weekend was canceled.

The Slam Dunk Contest was back, and Vince Carter did not disappoint.

Carter made windmill dunks, between-the-legs dunks, and even a dunk where he kept his forearm in the hoop. This was a legendary moment in Carter's career, but Carter was more than just a slam dunk king.

Carter is a humble person who was a great teammate and leader... This is the biography of Vince Carter.


Vincent Lamar Carter

On January 26, 1977, in Daytona Beach, Florida, a boy named Vincent Lamar Carter was born. He'd be known better as Vince Carter.

By the time Carter was in seventh grade, he was playing on his high school varsity basketball team. Carter was the only seventh grader to be on the varsity team.

Carter shined in high school while playing for the Mainland High Buccaneers. He gained honors from USA Today, Parade, and McDonald’s All-American, and he was voted as Florida’s 1995 Basketball Player-of-the-Year.

Carter was a great basketball player in high school, but that wasn't where his talent stopped. He also took up band and played the saxophone, trumpet, and drums. Carter also became the bandleader.

As for his grades, Carter kept a B- average because he knew there was more to life than just basketball. Carter explained this to Doug Smith in Smith's 2001 book - The Vince Carter Story:

“I wasn't the greatest student, but I sure wasn't the worst, either. I knew I had to keep my grades up if I wanted to play basketball. If there was one thing my mom and dad stressed all the time, it was the need to study and keep the grades up so I could play ball.”

Carter would keep his grades up, and he'd lead his high school team to a 30-2 record as a senior while averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Carter's great play in high school led to 77 NCAA Division I schools trying to recruit him. The school Carter ultimately chose was the University of North Carolina.


Vince Carter Becomes A Tar Heel

Vince Carter's play often reminded fans of a certain shooting guard who played for the Chicago Bulls. Of course, I'm talking about Michael Jordan.

Like Jordan, Carter played above the rim and high-flying dunks. So, when Carter attended the same college as His Airness, the comparisons grew larger.

In a 2019 article with Jacob Feldman of Sports Illustrated, Carter explained that he never wanted to be compared to Jordan:

“Because Michael Jordan had a scowl on his face, I was supposed to have a scowl on my face. But I felt I could talk to you all I wanted, even during the course of the game, and I’m still trying to bust your ass.

“At first the criticism bothered me and got under my skin. For a while it wasn’t fun and I worried about what people were saying—listening to them say I should be like this or that. I made it clear, I just wanted to be the next me. I didn’t want any part of being the next Michael Jordan. He’s the greatest player to play the NBA game. Let him be that. I’m OK being me.”

Carter may not have wanted the comparisons to Jordan, but he had the utmost respect for the G.O.A.T. This was shown during the 2003 NBA All-Star Game when Carter gave up his starting spot for Jordan in MJ's last All-Star Game.

Back in North Carolina, Carter had the high-flying dunks, but he never hit a game-winner to win an NCAA title as Jordan had done. Despite never winning an NCAA title, Carter still shined during his time in college.

Carter led the Tar Heels to two consecutive ACC Men's Basketball Tournament titles. He also helped North Carolina reach two straight Final Four appearances.

Carter also was named to the Consensus second-team All-American in 1998, First-Team All-ACC in 1998, Third-team All-ACC in 1997, and to the fan's guide third-annual Coaches ACC All-Defensive Team in 1998.

Carter would declare for the NBA Draft after his sophomore year at North Carolina, as he had his goals set on becoming the next great NBA star.


Air Canada Is Born

The Golden State Warriors selected Carter with the fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. The Warriors then traded Carter to the Toronto Raptors, who had the fourth pick in the draft.

The crazy thing about the draft trade was that the Raptors selected Carter's North Carolina teammate, Antawn Jamison. Carter was excited to start his rookie season, but he'd have to wait until January 1999 to start playing.

The NBA suffered through a lockout to start the 1999-98 NBA season. Once the season began, Carter immediately showcased his dunking prowess on basketball's biggest stage.

The Toronto Raptors joined the NBA in 1995 as an expansion team, and they didn't start off too hot. The Raptors won 21, 30, and 16 games during their first three seasons.

When Carter joined the team, they started to look better. They won 23 games during Carter's rookie season, but that was out of 50 games since the lockout shortened the 82 game season.

So, the team was much improved when Carter joined, and he was the reason. Carter averaged 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game as a rookie.

Carter would go on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, but he wanted more. Carter wanted to take the Raptors to the playoffs. The next season, Carter would achieve his goal.

The Raptors finished the 1999-00 season with a 45-37 record, which was good enough to make the Raptors the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors would take on the third-seeded New York Knicks.

The Raptors didn't fare too well in their first playoffs. They lost 3-0 to the Knicks, and their star had a horrible time.

Carter struggled in the series, shooting only 30% from the field and 10% from three. He averaged 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.

The Raptors would bounce back in the 2000-01 season, finishing with a 47-35 record. Carter would average a career-high 27.6 points per game as he led his Raptors to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

In the playoffs, Carter's Raptors would have a rematch against the Knicks. This time, things would go differently for the Raptors.

Carter's shooting was still not that great in the series. He shot 37.6% from the field, but he raised his scoring to 22.8 per game in this playoff series against the Knicks.

Carter led the Raptors to a 3-2 series victory over the Knicks. The Raptors were finally playoff series winners, and now they had to face the MVP of the league in Allen Iverson.

The Philadelphia 76ers held the best record in the East with a 56-26 record. They had the MVP, as mentioned earlier, and they had the Defensive Player of the Year in Dikembe Mutombo and the Sixth Man of the Year in Aaron McKie.

The 76ers were a stacked team, but Carter didn't care. He believed in himself and his team, and this led to Carter having the best playoff series of his career.

Carter hopped all over the 76ers in Game 1, scoring 35 points as he led his Raptors to a 96-93 upset victory in Philadelphia. Not only did Carter score 35 points, but he made a key tip-in and two free throws at the end of the game to seal the Raptors' victory.

The 76ers rebounded in Game 2 with a 97-92 victory behind Iverson's 54 points. Carter scored 28 points in the loss, but he would play better.

Game 3 is Carter's greatest playoff game. He scored 50 points on 19-29 shooting and 9-13 from three.

What made Carter's performance even greater was he hit eight consecutive three-point shots, all in the first half, which is a record. This was the game where “Vinsanity” was truly born.

The Raptors would eventually fall 3-2 in the series, and with their backs against the wall, Carter would shine. Carter scored 39 points on 17-31 shooting as the Raptors blew the 76ers out in a 101-89 victory.

This victory by the Raptors set up a Game 7 in Philadelphia. The odds weren't on Carter's Raptors' side, but he was ready to shock the world.

Game 7 would go down as one of the greatest playoff games of the 2000s. Carter and Iverson, though, would both struggle in Game 7.

Carter scored 20 points on 6-18 shooting, while Iverson scored 21 points on 8-27 shooting. Despite the struggles from the two stars, the game went down to the wire as the two teams battled it out.

The 76ers held onto a 88-87 lead with only 2.0 seconds remaining in the game. The Raptors had the ball and once last chance to win the series and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The ball was thrown into Carter, who quickly pump-faked to get open. Carter fired up a jumper that beat the buzzer, but his shot missed.

The 76ers advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, and the Raptors were sent home. This would ultimately be Carter's last true run in the playoffs as the “main man”.


Vince Carter Soars To New Jersey

The Raptors returned to the playoffs the following season, but they’d lose 3-2 to the Detroit Pistons in the First Round. Carter missed the playoffs thanks to having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

After the 2001-02 season, the Raptors would not return to the playoffs with Carter on their roster. Carter also struggled with injuries over the season, but that's not all Carter would struggle with.

Carter's relationship with the Raptors' front office became a struggle as Carter felt management wasn't taking the franchise in the right direction. This led to Carter asking for a trade, which the Raptors granted.

The Raptors traded Carter to the New Jersey Nets in December 2004. There, Carter had some good seasons, averaging 25.2 points per game in the 2006-07 season.

Even though Carter had some good moments, he wasn't quite the same player that he was in Toronto. This could have been a result of the injuries he suffered over his last few seasons in Toronto.

The Nets didn't see much success with Carter on their roster, as the farthest the team went in the playoffs was to the Semifinals. Carter did have a great series against his old team, the Raptors, in the 2007 playoffs.

The sixth-seeded Nets met the third-seeded Raptors in the First Round, and Carter led the Nets to the upset series victory. Carter averaged 25.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game in the series.

Carter's run in New Jersey would come to an end after the 2008-09 season when he was traded to the Orlando Magic. This is when Carter's role as a star player would change to a role player.


Vince Carter Embraces His Role

Carter's career would change trajectory after being traded by the Nets. He wasn't the same high-flying player of the past, and teams knew it. So did Carter.

Carter would play an incredible 11 more seasons in the NBA with the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, and the Atlanta Hawks.

Carter's minutes would see a dip as his career continued on. In his first year with the Magic, Carter played 30.8 minutes per game. In his last season with the Hawks, Carter only saw 14.6 minutes per game.

The once superstar player became a role player and role model to his younger teammates. Carter showed grace on the court, and the more his years went on, the more respect his colleagues had for him.

This grace led to Carter winning the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in the 2015-16 season.

“That was my MVP trophy,” Carter said about winning the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award in a 2020 interview with Ernie Johnson.

As you can see, being a good teammate was what Carter cared about the most during his playing days. Because of this, the younger players around him benefited greatly.

This attitude led Carter to not chase a title by joining a contender when he became a free agent after the 2017-18 season. Instead, Carter chose to join the young Atlanta Hawks to mentor their young players, including a rookie Trae Young.

“To just sit on the end of the bench? I can’t do that,” Carter said in a 2018 interview with The Athletic. “That’s not who I am. I’ve been around long enough to know what’s been ingrained in me and what’s been instilled in me. It’s just not my thing. The opportunity here is to play and help a young group of guys and head them in the right direction.”

Carter would play 22 seasons in the league before retiring after the 2019-20 season. He averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game for his 22-year career.

Carter's Hawks ended up losing 136-131 in overtime for his last game. But Carter would check into the game and make his final shot, which caused a few Knicks players to clap their hands.

As NBA fans, we witnessed the evolution of Vince Carter. From a high-flying slam dunk king to a constant pro and great teammate. For that, we, as fans, are grateful.