Vince Carter: ‘It was great to have one of those nights’
Kings veteran reflects on his milestone game against Cavaliers
Twenty years ago, the NBA welcomed a high-flying young man who created a phenomenon known as “Vinsanity.” Nearly 25,000 points later, at age 40, Vince Carter is the oldest player in the NBA and a member of the rebuilding Sacramento Kings. He’s still in love with the game.
Carter agreed to give The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears an exclusive look into his 20th NBA season on and off the court in a bimonthly diary. This is the fourth edition.
Chapter 20. Part 4. Carter scored 24 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, the most points from a 40-year-old in fewer than 30 minutes since 1988.
I played within the confines of the offense and I was able to make plays during the Cleveland game. It just worked out that way. For me, at this point, I am just doing what I need to do to make plays. It sounds like an old cliché, but that is what it is. I’ve been in a lot of games, and I’m confident in my ability. When I am able to do so and play that way, I’m going to do it in the flow. I was just making plays for the team. Obviously, when you’re making shots and Coach is like, ‘Hey, we need a basket. He’s in a rhythm. Let’s give him the rock all the time,’ I’m not guaranteed to get the shot. You just make the play, and this time I was able to make the play while getting the actual shot. It was great to have one of those nights.
It didn’t mean anything to me to do it against Cleveland. Not really. You always want to play well against the best players and the best teams. I knew when I was on top of the world, players wanted to do the same thing to me. I’ve played against the best forever. It was just what I needed to do to help my team, to be honest. I didn’t hear anything from LeBron James or Dwyane Wade during the game. I only heard something afterward from my young guys that were my teammates, [former Memphis Grizzlies teammate] Jeff Green, [former Dallas Mavericks teammate] Jose Calderon and Tristan Thompson. LeBron walked off before the game was over. I didn’t really look for him. Obviously, I’d speak to LeBron. But he was gone anyway.
It was just one night. If I played like that again, maybe I’d think about playing longer. But I still say one more year. That is just how I’ve been feeling. It is what it is. One more. I’d like to play one more year. Then, I’d probably just walk away.
I didn’t know that my name has been mentioned in trade rumors. I wouldn’t be a part of a major trade anyway, so I get it. That is not major news. I get it. I’m not worried about it. I don’t pay attention to it. It’s a business. … I just have to do my job for what it says on the front of my jersey. I kind of go from there. I am still going to be me. I am still going to play my best game within the confines of what the coach wants and asks from me. You’ll stress yourself out worrying about what is being said. There are always going to be rumors out there. That’s just how it goes in the league and it’s more prevalent now, whether it’s a superstar, two-way player or you’re a guy that has been around five years.
I guess I am a New Year’s resolution guy. For me, it’s simple. Continue to be a good father and family man if I can. Continue to work on my body. To me, that is my motivation every day. I know who I am as far as the oldest guy in the league, but I still want to be in the best shape possible. So when people are saying, ‘He’s 40. How’s he able to do this?’ — that’s my motivation. That’s what I want people to continue to ask and say. For the average guy who might be 30 or 35, I want them to be able to say, ‘He might be five or 10 years older than me, but how the heck is he able to do this?’ Or a guy to say, ‘We’re the same age, but I feel like s— when I wake up. How is he able to do this?’ Or for the guy who is 50, be like, ‘Man.’ I just want to be able to motivate people. It’s possible. That is kind of my resolution. Touch more people that are considered the older age in sport and say it’s possible. That is kind of the stuff I was able to grasp at an early age. I prepared for this at this age. I didn’t just kind of decide at 40 that I was going to put this kind of work in. If that wasn’t the case, I don’t think I would have been playing [now]. I prepared for this and had a routine of how I wanted to take care of myself and what I want to accomplish. And that was to continue to play this game.
Some of the older guys that I played against have been like, ‘Man …’ [Former NBA star] Grant [Hill] is my neighbor back in Florida. He says, ‘Keep doing it for us. You’re motivation for the older guys.’ I love to represent the older generation and guys that I played with. I am appreciative of their legacy and what they’ve done. To be able to play against them and to still play, when I see those guys and they are proud that I played against them and I’m still playing in this league, and to be able to compete against guys half my age, is just an honor to represent them.
I have zero plans for New Year’s Eve. None for me. I got to keep it simple. Things like that, in reality, I always have a decision to make. The decision is to go out there, have fun and hang out late. OK, have a drink or two. But now it’s like, how am I going to feel the next day whether I have a practice or game? That’s kind of been my approach the last couple of years. It’s been the right decision for me, so I’m going to stick with it.