As Vince Carter has called it quits on his long-standing veteran NBA career, his influence on generations of Milwaukee Bucks players is palpable.
One of the greats to ever play in the NBA officially called it a day after a 22-year career.
Making his retirement official through his ‘Winging It with Vince Carter’ podcast over at The Ringer, the man known as Vinsanity, Half Man, Half Amazing, and Air Canada has put a bow on the longest NBA career in league history.
That mere fact points to the one-of-a-kind longevity that Carter succeeded in having after undergoing his transformation from a captivating superstar to a high-level role player in what seemed to be a blink of an eye.
But at the core of Carter’s basketball career and play on the court was his magnetic athleticism and vast array of thrilling slam dunks.
Certainly, several generations of basketball fans remember where they were when watching Carter’s victorious and historic performance at the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest in Oakland as part of that year’s All-Star Weekend. It simultaneously served as the breakout party to what was the first of Carter’s eight consecutive All-Star appearances and he subsequently gained a legion of fans that waited on bated breath for Carter’s next stupendous dunk.
Count current Milwaukee Bucks wing Pat Connaughton among those that was subscribed to the church of Vinsanity as he’s talked about the influence Carter had on him and his pursuit of becoming a slam dunk artist in his own right during his childhood.
And before making his appearance in this year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest in Chicago, Connaughton unsurprisingly name checked Carter as his favorite dunker of all-time to Trevor Hass of Boston.com:
“Yeah, I think Vince Carter, when he won it. He stuck his elbow in the rim, he did the reverse 360 windmill, between the legs, called game, said it was over. That was one of my most memorable ones, one that I remember growing up, one that I’ve re-watched a few times.”
Some Bucks players, whether it was George Hill or Brook and Robin Lopez, have even gone as far as having played with Carter over his 22 years in the league.
Although Brook had played only one year with Carter during their shared time with the then-New Jersey Nets during the 2008-09 season, he knew the significance of Carter’s contributions and went as far as vouching for Carter’s no. 15 jersey to be retired by the organization during a visit this season.
Former Milwaukee Bucks great and Carter’s contemporary, Ray Allen, played with the former Tar Heel on the international stage and Allen and Carter have an interesting history with one another in that regard.
Both Allen and Carter had been vying for the last spot on Team USA’s squad ahead of the 2000 Sydney Olympic games, which eventually went to Allen. It’s hard to envision now, given Allen’s Hall of Fame credentials, but the selection did spur on some debate, given that Allen had yet to make his first All-Star appearance and the Vinsanity train was nearly leaving the station.
The snub of missing out on Team USA lit a fire under Carter and as he often did, he put on a show of scoring 47 points and leaving Allen with a bloody nose after a contentious spat during a 115-110 Raptors win on January 14, 2000.
Carter eventually made his own way on to that year’s Olympic squad as an injury replacement, all of which set the stage for the crown jewel of Carter’s extensive and legendary dunk reel. During a 106-94 win over France during the group stage, Carter came up with a steal and rose up over French center Frederic Weis to throw down a powerful one-hand slam dunk.
In an oral history written by ESPN’s Michael Wallace and Rob Peterson that centered around the dunk and that Olympic Games, Allen recounted what it was like seeing such an iconic moment unfold while he on the floor:
“It was like I was dreaming. To me, Weis being 7 feet and Vince jumping completely over him was impossible. But he did it. And when he did it, it was like: “I can’t believe my eyes. What did I just see? Did he just do what I think he did?”
I almost forgot that I was there on the floor. I became a fan watching it from the highlights. I’m always like: “I’m right there! I was right behind that!”
Allen’s reaction in regard to the “Dunk of Death” certainly goes for all basketball fans seeing Carter rattle off his brand of high-flying slam dunks and do it as effortlessly as he did at his peak athleticism and bounce. Of course, Carter was more than just a dunker and was a highly productive three-level scorer during his time with the Raptors and later on with the Nets before transitioning into a very sound role player over the last decade.
The fact that Carter’s game, freakish athleticism and enthralling dunks transcended rooting interests points to the indelible mark he now officially leaves behind after making his retirement official yesterday. And the game of basketball and the NBA is better for it as a result.