At the ripe age of 42, Vince Carter is still in the NBA chugging right along.
Carter, who has been in the league since being drafted fifth overall in the 1998 draft, is currently playing for the Atlanta Hawks in his NBA-record 22nd season, which will be his final one. The player who was deemed “half-man, half-amazing” has been nothing short of that throughout his entire career.
For a player like Carter who relied so much on athleticism when he first joined the NBA, it is truly astonishing to see him playing in the NBA over two decades after being drafted.
Carter hasn’t been an All-Star since the 2006-2007 season. In order for a former superstar to last this long in the NBA, not only does it take a change in play style but a change in mentality, both of which Carter has done.
Back when Carter was soaring through the air and declaring “it’s over,” he was one of the best players in the league and a true superstar. During his eight-year streak of appearing as an All-Star, Carter averaged nearly 25 points a game. He was very clearly the go-to scorer on the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets, and his mentality and play resembled this.
After his age-32 season, Carter joined the Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. This is when the mentality and play style started to change.
Carter went from playing 36.8 minutes the year before for the Nets to playing only 30.8 in Orlando. His shot attempts fell from 16.8 per game to 13.5 shots per game.
Unlike other superstars, such as Kobe Bryant, Carter realized he wasn’t the player he once was early. It didn’t take a catastrophic injury or Carter hitting rock bottom in the league. No, Carter has always just wanted to play basketball and play the game for as long as he possibly could.
Carter let go of his superstar ego and mentality and took on the “whatever is best for the team” mentality.
After leaving Orlando for a brief stint with the Phoenix Suns, Carter joined the Dallas Mavericks for the 2011-2012 season. He remained in Dallas for three seasons, and this is where you saw the biggest change to his game. Carter averaged 9.9 shots a game during his tenure with the Mavs, but what is most notable is almost half of his shot attempts came from beyond the arc.
Carter didn’t have the athleticism and quickness to beat guys to the rim like he could before. Instead of forcing the issue and getting left behind in a league about spacing, Carter got with the program.
For his age-38 season, Carter left the Mavs and signed with the Memphis Grizzlies.
During his time with the Grizzlies, Carter doubled down on adjusting to the new league. Carter went from having 44 percent of his shot attempts coming from beyond the arc for the Mavs to 56 percent with the Memphis Grizzlies.
As the league changed, so did Carter. He accepted what the league was becoming and changed the player he was so he could continue to play the game he loved.
After his time with the Grizzlies, Carter was 40 and wanted to continue to play basketball. He also hadn’t won a championship in his career. Would a championship team want to sign a 40-year-old?
It didn’t matter, because Carter didn’t give those teams that option.
Carter went on to play for inexperienced teams like the Sacramento Kings and, currently, the Atlanta Hawks. He has taken on the role of being a tremendous veteran and loves trying to help out the new generation of players.
Instead of sitting at the end of the bench chasing a ring, why not continue to play NBA minutes and have your legacy live on by your mentorship toward the new era of players?
Vince Carter is still in the NBA for a historic 22nd season because he changed his mentality as he grew older and adjusted with the league.
He also somehow still has some of that juice he had when he was younger. Just last season for the Hawks, Carter had 15 dunks!
Maybe Carter isn’t in the league because of the reasons posted.
It may just be because he’s half-man, half-amazing.