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Vince Carter announces retirement

Vince Carter in 2000 dunk contest

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 2000: Vince Carter #15 of the Toronto Raptors goes for a dunk during the 2000 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Competion circa 2000 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Hayt/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Vince Carter said he was 90% certain he’d retire after the 2018-19 season. But he got the itch and played for the Hawks this season. As Atlanta finished its game the night the NBA suspended its season due to coronavirus, Carter treated it like a last hurrah. The Hawks are done for the season, one of eight teams not continuing at Disney World.

But is Carter actually done?

Carter on “Winging It With Vince Carter” podcast:

I’m officially finished playing basketball.
It’s no “I think.” OK, I’m officially done playing basketball professionally. I’ll play at home.

Carter played a record 22 NBA seasons (with the Raptors, Nets, Magic, Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Kings and Hawks). He is the best dunker of all-time. His stardom shined from the court to commercials at his peak, and he had a long and effective second act as a veteran journeyman.

What a unique and eventual career.

Carter won 1999 Rookie of the Year with Toronto and led the Raptors to their only playoff-series victory in their first 20 years of existence. Toronto fell one game short of the 2001 Eastern Conference finals after Carter infamously attended his graduation at North Carolina the day of Game 7 against the 76ers in the second round. Raptors fans soured on him, especially as his effort slipped.

Carter forced a trade to the Nets in 2004. He rounded out his offensive game and made the last of his eight All-Star games with New Jersey.

The main blemish on Carter’s long career: A lack of playoff success. He won just three playoff series while a star (2001 first round with Toronto, 2006 and 2007 first rounds with the Nets). He reached the conference finals only once (2010 with the Dwight Howard-led Magic). His only other playoff-series victory came as a backup (2015 with Grizzlies).

But Carter is likely headed to the Basketball Hall of Fame. His prime was impressive, and his longevity is unmatched. The 2000 dunk contest was a seminal moment. Carter is well-liked, especially due to his veteran-mentor phase. Even Toronto fans came around.

Such a testament to his endearing qualities and staying power.