After setting a league record for most seasons played in the NBA (22), Vince Carter has formally announced his retirement. Before the season started, Carter announced that this would be his final year in the NBA, and said several times throughout the season that he didn't want anyone making a big deal about it. As one of the most electrifying players in NBA history, though, he absolutely deserved a proper send-off.
After the league announced in early June its plan to resume the season with 22 teams in Orlando, it became official that Carter played his last NBA game back in March as the Atlanta Hawks were not invited. On Thursday morning, during an episode of his podcast "Winging It With Vince Carter", he made a formal retirement announcement.
"I'm officially done playing basketball professionally," Carter said succinctly.
Carter's final game came on the final night before the league postponed the season on March 11. In 12 minutes of action against the New York Knicks, Carter put up five points and one rebound. The of his career came off an assist from Trae Young for a 3-point shot, with players from both teams and fans cheering him on. The Hawks released a statement Thursday morning addressing Carter's retirement announcement.
"Over the last two years, Vince Carter has been a committed leader, respected mentor and influential example on the court, in the locker room and in the Atlanta community. Throughout his historic 22-year journey covering an unprecedented four different decades, his evolving career arc was perhaps like none other in league history -- from Top 5 draft pick to Rookie of the Year to Slam Dunk Champion to superstar and eight-time All-Star to Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year and valuable role player. It's an honor to the Hawks organization that he completed his Hall-of-Fame career wearing Atlanta across his chest and representing our city.
The eight-time All-Star will undoubtedly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible, and while most will remember him for his gravity-defying dunks, Carter was more than just a supremely skilled dunker. Coming out of North Carolina as a heralded prospect, Carter carried the Toronto Raptors to their first franchise playoff appearance in his rookie season. He was one of the most popular players in the NBA early on in his career, and became beloved by fans everywhere as he was a top vote-getter for the All-Star Game three years in a row from 2000-2002.
On Thursday afternoon, NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement regarding Carter's retirement, touching on the legacy he's leaving behind.
"Vince Carter has made an indelible impact on the NBA with his remarkable skill and enduring commitment. For a record 22 seasons, he played with pure joy and created so many memorable moments as an eight-time All-Star, a Slam Dunk champion and an Olympic gold medalist. We congratulate Vince on a storied career and thank him for being a true ambassador of the game."
While he never won an NBA championship or was honored as league MVP, Carter was a well-respected player across the league throughout his entire career. He's the only player to compete in four different decades of the NBA, largely because he adapted as the game evolved. He transformed from the franchise piece to a valuable role player, and in the latter part of his career saw success coming off the bench to knock down 3s.
Most notably, was his game-winning 3-point shot in Game 3 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs as a member of the Dallas Mavericks in 2014. His difficult corner 3 over Manu Ginobili gave Dallas a 2-1 game lead over the San Antonio Spurs.
With Carter now officially hanging it up, that officially closes the books on the 1998 NBA Draft class, as he was the last active member from that year. Carter headlined a class that also featured Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Rashard Lewis and Antawn Jamison. The ending to Carter's career is likely not what he was expecting, but the veteran worked on being at peace with it over the course of the season, thanks to conversations with Kobe Bryant.
"I went from the hesitation of starting the season and going through it, to not really saying the word retirement," Carter said. "To having a conversation with Kobe which gave me the confidence and comfort to talk about retirement, to this point where the season's over and in my mind I know there's 15 games left but we're not sure yet, but it's cool though. Basketball's been good to me. I've enjoyed each and every moment of it, good and bad so if this is it it's all good, at least I made my last basket."