OKC Thunder: Homage to Vince Carter

OKC Thunder - ode to Vince Carter #15 of the Hawks dunks and scores his 25,000th NBA point in the final seconds of their 124-108 loss to the Raptors on Nov 21, 2018. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder - ode to Vince Carter #15 of the Hawks dunks and scores his 25,000th NBA point in the final seconds of their 124-108 loss to the Raptors on Nov 21, 2018. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The OKC Thunder were set to play Vince Carter once more but the suspension may alter that scenario. TI revisits the star’s career with fond memories.

The OKC Thunder are into the first weekend of suspended play of the 2019-20 season. The hope is in 30 days when Commissioner Adam Silver and the Board of Governors reconvenes the league will begin the process of getting games back on the hardcourt. A month off is by no means a definitive return date, however.

Even if the league is able to complete the season there are unknown dynamics to how that process will play out. For example, teams have between 15 and 19 games left to play. Depending on when games can recommence the league may decide to forego those matches and jump immediately into the playoffs.

If that is the elected direction for most players it will mean either starting their offseason workouts or prepping for the first round of the postseason.

But, for one player it will mean the end of a storied career. That player is Vince Carter, currently of the Atlanta Hawks who at 43 is the oldest active player in the Association.

VC won’t go down in history as the oldest player to ever play or have the most cumulative games but by virtue of playing in his 22nd season, he vaults to the top of the list for the number of seasons played.

As news reached the players on Wednesday night and Carter learned of the immediate season suspension it hit him that he may have played his last game in the NBA. After all these years to find out that news was jarring.

Carter has appeared in 60 of the Hawks 67 this season. At his age to still be healthy and contributing is impressive. Anointed half man -half amazing Carter has delivered more than his share of highlights.

Half Man – Half Amazing:

He can be cited for bringing back the All-Star Slam Dunk which had been on a two-year hiatus after several lackluster contests. That win in Oakland stands the test of time and for those too young to have witnessed it first hand is worth the YouTube review.

Although Vince’s prime was over for most of his 30 meetings versus the OKC Thunder there were still some impressive performances. His best season against OKC occurred in 2010-11 when he averaged 30 points, five rebounds, 2.7 assists and hit 14 perimeter shots out of 28 attempted through three games.

Vinsanity vs. OKC Thunder:

He never met up against the Thunder in the postseason. Still, there were ample offerings for OKC Thunder fans to recall from Vinsanity even if we missed out on his early years when VC routinely delivered contest style dunks in games.

If the season does return but goes immediately to the playoffs it will offer an odd symmetry to his career. That because his rookie season lasted only 50 games due to the strike-shortened season. In fact, of the 15 games remaining one was to be played in front of his drafting Raptors club who were prepared to send him off in style.

Following the match on Wednesday, as Carter sat at the podium it seemed he was processing the situation as he answered media questions.

Near the 5:15 mark of the above video as Carter responds to a question regarding this potentially being his last game for the briefest of moments he stops and gets choked up as if the realization is just sinking in.

There will be basketball again and plenty of great young stars who come behind Carter, but few will come close to his longevity. Fewer still will elect to play with a young team and serve as a mentor instead of chasing rings to put a cap on their career accomplishments.

Undoubtedly, Carter will be in front of the cameras again shortly as he assumes his next career in broadcasting.

Lasting Memories:

There are numerous highlights to recall such as witnessing him jump over the 7’3″ French center Frederic Weis in the Olympics. He’s delivered some of the most jaw-dropping game dunks in history and hit game-winning shots in the playoffs.

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The thrills he delivered are too many to list. But, it was his role as a professional and a mentor that will stick with this narrator. That his love for the game was so pure, he wanted to give back to the next generation will be what he should equally be celebrated for.

I hope he gets his chance to play those final 15 games which include one versus our OKC Thunder and a final appearance in Toronto. It feels like that would be the proper ending.

If not, that his final shot came in the closing seconds of his last game and featured a 3-point shot that barely touched the net is fitting.

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Regardless, after 22 years this narrator wishes him well and gives thanks for that long list of memories. All the best Vince, may your next career off the court bring you as much joy as you brought the fans on it.