BRANDON WADE/ FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM/TNS
Vince Carter, then with the Dallas Mavericks, celebrates an alley-oop dunk during a game against the Orlando Magic at the American Airlines Center in Dallas in February 2013.
BY JAMES P. HILL
SPECIAL TO THE DAYTONA TIMES
ORLANDO – Vince Carter is known from Daytona Beach to Toronto, Ontario for his high-flying slam dunks.
After facing the Orlando Magic on April 5 – a team he grew up watching and played for – the 42-year-old Carter said he wants to play one more season in the NBA.
If the Hawks or another team pick him up for the 2019-2020 season, it will be his 22nd season, which would be an NBA record.
“It’s not over yet… I don’t want to put the period on it yet,” Carter said with a smile after the Magic game.
“I’m very thankful. I just enjoy playing the game regardless of the outcomes. I still have the competitive fire and juices and I still hate to lose. It’s slowly draining out of my system, but I’m going to try it one more time and probably call it a career.”
‘Fun to come home’
In the April 5 game, Carter scored 11 points and blocked two shots in 21 minutes of action.The Orlando Magic defeated Carter and the Atlanta Hawks by a final score of 149-113 in front of a sellout crowd at Amway Center.
The shooting guard and small forward for the Hawks is still passionate about competing and playing basketball on the highest level and the biggest stage on earth. Playing in Orlando is like being home.
“It’s always fun to come home, obviously, to play and my friends come out and see me play live. Obviously, my family come out and see me play live,” he noted.
Basketball, music stand-out
Carter grew up in Daytona Beach dreaming of playing in the NBA. He made the McDonald’s All-American team while at Mainland High School. He helped Mainland win the 1995 FHSAA Boys Basketball Class 6A state championship.
While not on the basketball court, he was a proud drum major with Mainland’s marching band. He also played the saxophone and baritone.
He received a music scholarship to Bethune-Cookman to join the Marching Wildcats band.
Chose Chapel Hill
Carter chose the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and played college basketball for the Tar Heels.
“I enjoyed it being a kid; loving the game, playing the game, working on my game like any other. And I was very fortunate to get an opportunity to play at top-notch University of North Carolina and from there it was like just see what happens,” Carter reflected.
“Some people were like, ‘Oh, I knew you were destined for the NBA.’ No, I just wanted that opportunity to try out and see what happens and it’s worked in my favor.
1998 Draft pick
Carter was picked fifth overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors and traded for his UNC teammate Antwan Jamison on draft night to the Toronto Raptors where he became known as “Air Canada.’’
Carter and his cousin Tracy McGrady from Auburndale played together for the Toronto Raptors in 1998-99 and 19992000.
His NBA history includes stints with Toronto, New Jersey Nets, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento, and Atlanta.
Slam dunk master
Also referred to during his career as “Vinsanity,’’ Carter put on an unforgettable performance winning the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk contest.
He is also remembered for a slam dunk in Sidney, Australia during the 2000 Summer Olympics when he actually jumped over 7’2’’ French center Frederic Weis.
Team USA defeated France in the Gold medal game 85-75.
Carter maintains being ready to perform is the key to his success.
“I’m prepared just like every 20, 21-year old in here, if not more. So that’s what makes it easy to come to work every day,” Carter said.
Carter has a career-scoring average of 17.2 points per game, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 1480 NBA games.
Every time he steps on the basketball court, Carter brings consistency, passion, and work ethic.
From winning the NBA Rookie of the year in 1998-1999 to helping lead the rebuilding 2018-2019 Atlanta Hawks, Carter’s journey has come full circle – like a basketball spinning after he slams it through the hoop.
“And after 20-something years, it’s just business as usual for us all really,” Carter added. “It’s always a pleasure and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to still be seen playing in this professional game.”
Helping local youth
Carter is still very much tied to his hometown community.
His Embassy of Hope Foundation was started in 1998 by the NBA star. The non-profit charitable organization was founded to address the needs of children and their parents.
Each year, he hosts a Vince Carter Youth Basketball Academy in Daytona Beach. This year’s summer camp – open to boys and girls 7 to 17 – is July 15-19 at the Vince Carter Athletic Center, located at Mainland High School.
Visit Vincecarter15.com for more information.
James P. Hill is a freelance writer for the Daytona Times.