It is difficult to define and explain in a few lines what Vince Carter represents within basketball world. He arrived in the NBA drafted by the Golden State Warriors and immediately traded to the Toronto Raptors, with which he played unforgettable seasons, and later confirmed his huge talent playing along with the New Jersey Nets. Against France at the 2000 Olympic Games, he realized one of the most remembered dunk ever, couple of months later having won one of the most amazing Slam Dunk Contest in Oakland. In the 2009-10 season, at 33 years old, his career arrived at a turning point. Carter reached the Playoffs Conference Finals for his first time playing for the Orlando Magic but the Florida-based franchise decided to trade him after only one and a half year. However, Vinsanity was far from stop shining. The next years in Dallas gifted him and his fans another big moment: on 26th April 2014, he defeated the Spurs with an incredible buzzer beater in Game 3 of their Playoffs Series. Now, almost at 38 years old, he accepted the offer of the Memphis Grizzlies to play as sixth man and the results speak for himself: coach Joerger’s team (at the moment) is second in the Western Conference. The editorial staff of My-Basket.it had the privilege of asking a couple of questions to this basketball legend.
Let’s start talking about high school days. You were an exciting basketball prospect but you were also a very talented musician. Was there a moment when you realized that basketball would have been your future? Do you still play the saxophone during your spare time?
«Basketball was always my number one, my dream and my goal. Music was just secondary, it was more of a passion on the side. I have a saxophone, I play it every now and then».
Since you were traded by the Raptors during the 2004-05 season, you haven’t always received a warm welcome on your returns to the Air Canada Centre, but last time was different. What are your feelings about Raptors’ video tribute?
«It was a great feeling, it was something that I will always cherish just because it was so unexpected. I’m definitely very appreciative of it and will always remember it».
You are mostly considered an offensive-minded player. Is it difficult to get used to the Grizzlies’ basketball style?
«It wasn’t too difficult. Coming here, I took the summer to get with the coaches to understand what they expect of us. I’m adjusted now».
Some of the players drafted before the 2000 are still starters in the NBA, for example Duncan, Bryant and your former teammate Nowitzki. What is the secret to still be effective even if you’re playing less minutes
«Your approach. I think your approach is most important and understanding how you can be effective in less minutes».
You played three years for the North Carolina Tar Heels. In recent years there is a lot of “hype” on freshmen and it seems that the Draft Lottery Picks are, in a certain way, reserved to them even if they’re not actually ready for the NBA, considering “potential” more than the actual value of the player. If you went to college in recent years, would you stay in the NCAA for three seasons or would you prefer to go straight to the NBA after just one year?
«It’s situational for me. It was just the right situation, that’s the reason why I left. I might have had the opportunity to leave my sophomore year, but it was just the right time for me, at that time. Now, for others it’s different and I think if I were coming out of college now, it may have been different. The game has changed, maybe I could have left after my first year, I don’t know».
The Slam Dunk Contest is always one of the highlights of the year. In your opinion, will there ever be someone else who can offer a show like the one you did? Do you think that among NBA players, streetballers and professional dunkers on YouTube there still is something never seen in the dunking world?
«Oh for sure. I’ve seen a lot on the YouTube videos that I was like, Wow, I wish I thought of that a couple years ago. At the same time, there’s some stuff they’ve done that I don’t think I would have the guts to try».
Who is the best player you’ve ever played with and the best you’ve ever played against?
Played with: Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard. Played against: Michael Jordan.
Intro translated by: Federico Magnani