In a past life, I hated Vince Carter.
My girlfriend at the time did a horrendous job of hiding her high school crush on the recently drafted, North Carolina product. So as he spent his rookie season defying gravity and performing the type of aerial stunts typically reserved for a trapeze artist, I stewed with envy.
Every time his name came up in a conversation I scowled, and when he’d pop up in every other SportsCenter highlight I’d glare at the screen, pretending not to be in awe at his athletic prowess.
But the nigga was good as shit, and by his second season, he was already one of the coldest players in the league. Perennial All-Star nods and other accolades would soon follow, and before I knew it, I felt like I had a high school crush on the dude, too.
And now, at 43 years old, Mr. Half-Man, Half-Amazing is calling it a career. On his podcast, Winging It With Vince Carter, he made his long-rumored retirement official.
“I’m officially done playing basketball professionally,” he said.
I’d like to take the time to send a very special FUCK YOU to the coronavirus for cutting Vinsanity’s final season short and depriving us all of a proper Kobe-esque swan song. But after an unprecedented 22-years of service, Vince is at peace with his decision—despite the circumstances.
“If there was any disappointment because of the season—any of that—it was kind of easier to put it aside and handle it that way,” he said. “It’s like, OK, it’s something bigger than my career. [...] It’s unfortunate, but with the coronavirus taking people’s lives rapidly, that’s the big picture in my mind.
“So I was able to put the weird ending—the abrupt stoppage of play, to an ending—aside for the bigger picture.”
It’s truly the end of an era, but his upcoming departure provides us with the perfect opportunity to revisit some of his career highlights. Because who in the hell doesn’t like career highlights?
Remember that time he snatched the soul out of Fredrick Weis at the 2000 Olympics?
Or when he gave everybody the business in the Slam Dunk Contest?
Or when he put Alonzo Mourning on a poster?
As the only player in NBA history to play during four different decades (the 90s, 2000s, 2010s, and finally 2020), the league won’t be the same without him. Respect due, Vince.