More than just a nostalgia act, Vince Carter is proving valuable to the Memphis Grizzlies
VINSANITY. Vince Carter has remained relevant and employed by being able to adapt to whatever a team needs. File photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images/AFP
Vince Carter is nearly a half-century old, and he’s still half-man, half-amazing.
The 19-year veteran swingman may have only chipped in 4 points and 4 rebounds in the Memphis Grizzlies’ 104-95 Game 3 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, April 20 (Friday Manila time), but he hung in the game for a team-high 36 minutes and threw down a vintage Carter dunk in the third quarter.
Carter was once one of the most potent and entertaining offensive threats in NBA history, which he had solidified by slam-dunking his way to 22nd in the league’s all-time scoring list. He has already surpassed three-point king Ray Allen and is now chasing Knicks legend Patrick Ewing.
Now at 40 years old, Carter has lost a lot of his offensive mojo and is yet to grasp the Holy Grail of basketball: an NBA championship.
While most basketball players at his age are either enjoying or planning retirement, Carter is hustling front and center with the Grizzlies in the NBA playoffs. Despite being slowed down and ringless, he has kept busy adapting to the changes experienced by the game and providing what his current team needs from him.
With “Mr. First Team All-Defense” Tony Allen out with an injury, Carter is filling the defensive void and filling it well. His Game 3 defensive assignments, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili, combined for a dismal 6 points (all from Green) on 3-11 shooting, 0-5 from three-point land and a -22 in team plus-minus – a stat that determines how many points a team is better or worse with certain players playing on the court. For 36 whole minutes, Carter schooled his fellow veterans who have more rings than him.
This innate ability to adapt year after year has kept Carter employed and beloved by fans young and old. Three years into his stint with Memphis, he has imbibed their very slow, grind-it-out style of play and is continuing to prove himself valuable at an advanced age.
Back in 2012, when he was already 36 years old, he played in 81 out of 82 games for the Dallas Mavericks, filling a lack of bench offense and leadership. He started just 3 out of the 81 games and averaged an efficient 13.4 points on 44% shooting and 41% from three. He once again adapted to his team’s needs and improved his subpar long-range shooting (which was just 32% in his 7th season in Toronto).
In the end, it all boiled down to Carter’s acceptance of his own mortality on the court he called home for nearly two decades.
“I’ve passed the point of, ‘Man, I used to dunk that.’ I’m past that,” Carter said in an article for Bleacher Report. “I know that’s not a part of my game. I mean, it’s a part of my game, but I’m just smart about it. Is the highlight of the dunk worth not being able to continue playing the game possibly?”
With the Grizzlies far from being favorites to win the title this year, Carter may just sadly hang up his sneakers without an NBA Championship. Then again, even the most obscure scrubs have won championships through being at the right spot at the right time. Vince Carter never had that luxury. He earned his keep like a man, and that’s what made him amazing.