TORONTO – One of these days will be the last time. Vince Carter will come to Toronto, where it all started, and everyone will know that his incredible career – more epic than epic at this point – is finally over.
But he is not ready to admit to Father Father. Not on Tuesday in January when we are playing for Atlanta Hawks 12-28, whose only chance of winning at this site will be on the draft lottery in May.
The 41-year-old in his 21st year – "half a man, half a century", who was a smart fan on Twitter, called him – but he is not ready to admit the end.
It has goals. "But the championship, of course," he said before tackling Hawks' piles before the end, before they lost 104-101 for a team that he caught in the NBA with – literally – centuries ago.
If he hopes to do it in Atlanta, Carter might have a plan to play until he is 50 years old, about whom he does not tell anyone. One day Hawks will not make 27 traffic. One day they will not do two in the last minute, which will lead to a point. That day is not here, not on 31-12. "That's sad," he said after the match. "So we tried to play on the road. This is a game that will ultimately learn how to win. "
At this time, maybe something more affordable: could Carter set the record as the NBA's longest player? Can it squeeze for another year? Maybe more?
"Now I know I'm connected with some guys [Robert Parish and Kevin Garnett also played 21 seasons] and that's something I did not know, a few years ago, "he said. "I did not think about this. I mean, I did not come to think about playing so long. "
Now, there is, as it were, a message. At any time, he will have two career opportunities.
For 11 seasons, which began with the Raptor launch, after being selected in fifth place in 1998, Carter was the force. His 2000/01 season with Raptors – his third – averaged 27.6 points, which is still the highest average in the history of the franchise.
Divided evenly between Toronto and New Jersey during these 11 years, Carter averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists. He was a novice of the year, 10 times more stars, twice earned all NBA honors, fell 50 in the finish and electrified the country.
But for the last 10 years, he was a starving starter, a top role player and recently a mentor for young teams in Sacramento and now Atlanta, where they need the full incentive they can get, I win some and far between them.
He did not persecute him.
"They gave me the chance to play and do some great things and I helped develop men and develop the organization as a player, even if I'm not a coach," said Carter, who promptly put Hawke's coach Lloyd Pierce in the Trae Young for the second time, advanced John Collins, the planned foundation stone of still very theoretical Hawks. "One thing is to sit with some guys, talk and go through situations, the other thing is to go to the field and show them."
You hold this for a long time and you can not help but build a resume. At the beginning of this season he became one of the 26 NBA players who scored 25,000 points. Another season and he should have been in the top 20 of all time. Every eligible player above him in this list is in the Hall of Fame and given his Olympic gold from the 2000 games and his intangible but real impact on the Canadian basketball explosion, it's hard to imagine that he will not come to Springfield if he ever withdraws.
As a bonus it has been so long that it has reached a benevolent category of an old man that some athletes reach if they are lucky enough – where they can not do anything wrong and all their mistakes are forgiven.
The tide turned to Carter in Toronto a few years ago when the club played a touching video and Carter, who moved to tears, surrounded the crowd as an old friend who was ready to let the past go. On Tuesday night, Carter entered the overseas in the middle of the first quarter without a stormy boo. "I am glad to come to this arena, every year is something I look forward to. This will never change, whether I was smiling or not. I enjoy playing in this venue and embroidering a cake when fans are grateful. "
He was even thrilled when he pulled up and went three times to his first touch on the road to six points in 13 minutes and the front seat when his young classmates clashed downwards, although Carter – for the last possession – trimmed the border from half, which would be three playing.
But what does all this mean, you can stop and wonder? What will all this mean when it finally ends? Of the 15 other men who played at least 19 NBAs, Jamal Crawford is the only one who has never won the championship.
In a way, Carter is a person and a player who has always been. As a superstar, I would never agree with what it might mean. He did not want to rip out someone like Michael Jordan, or he was vomiting like Kobe Bryant. If this is the key to them, they share 11 titles between them, Carter will never pay this price.
It's not too hard to say that he is too friendly guy, which is one of the reasons he will be remembered as one of his greatest colleagues from the NBA – no one else had any more.
He was a very good player in very good teams, but he is still the one who decided to attend his awarding ceremony in the morning of the seventh series of series series so far – if superstars who took care of the victory at the first , second and third place – your taste, buy somewhere else.
In recent years, his choice has highlighted this point. Having established a valuable reserve for the team in Dallas and Memphis, he shocked everything he signed with Sacramento in 2017-18, when the kings won only 27 games – although Carter got $ 8 million for his troubles. This year he doubled when he signed a contract with Atlanta, which is clearly the best choice for a lottery.
But Carter seems lucky, in no way burdensome because of lost trails, traveling or working with a room full of children who were in diapers when putting people on posters.
"I just did not get tired of it. It's hard work and a bit harder than it was 10 years ago, but I still enjoy grinding, "she says. "… I can not imagine not doing it."
The only thing that does not enjoy it?
"In the morning." He said when a large crowd of journalists started a laughing smile. "No, seriously. I woke up a few mornings and you see that I'm going into a circle or meeting and that all the guys are "okay?" And I'm just, "Yeah, you guys do not understand."
If we judge a bit harshly – or perhaps fair – it is a career with more carbohydrates than proteins. His 25,000 point came to the undeniable dunk in the last second of a loss [to the Raptors] in a half-empty arena for a team that does not go anywhere. His personal accent, which he stated, was only that – personal.
The winner of the newcomer to the year was one, the win at the dunk competition in 2000 was another, and he was the leading messenger in the all-star game – he did four times in five years, starting in 2000, just like Raptor – it was too much.
"When some elite superstars were still in the game. I can say that I had more votes at one time than Michael Jordan. I am, "he said. "You can not beat this."
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A few generations of Hall of Famers could argue this, but it seems unreasonable to impose Carter on being honest because he was alone.
"One thing I reject is to steal my joy," he says. "Sometimes I allowed this to happen, and now that I do, I have grown up, I'm happy all the time. Most of the time."
From the perspective of Toronto, from the perspective of Canadian basketball, his best time came when he spectacularly played for the emerging franchise, attracted new fans to sport and justified the faith of long rings.
We saw that Vince Carter was doing his best and that Carter had done his best years here. Tuesday night in Toronto – perhaps not his last night in Toronto, just as it happens – Carter and nearly 20,000 Raptors fans were happy to share their memories.
Everyone felt the younger and for one evening in the long season in a long career, Carter was again important.
In this sense, Carter needs Toronto as many years as Toronto needed.