Monday, 15 September 2014
VINCE CARTER Feature-GET CARTER
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Mr. V-dot, Carter. The T-Dot made him harder. What do you know about that? What do you remember about this? Get Carter. We mean it with an exclamation mark and a question one. Like Milk. Almost like Mike. Misconceptions. Misunderstandings. The man that rose a mountain top above the rim, with the entire Air of Canada behind him. Only to come down grounded in hate. He put the basketball buzz of Canada on the map when he stitched 'Toronto' across his chest before it fell apart at the seams. Now he joins a franchise just like him, formerly exiled from North America to find themselves a new home in the United States of the National Basketball Association. Still in Memphis, playing for the former Vancouver Grizzlies, he may no longer be the King in Elvis' town but he's still a great player thank you very much. Ready to rock, roll and show he's still more than just a valuable veteran in those blue suede sneaks. Proving that he's on the same former superman, star path of the likes of Grant Hill. After some Magic in Orlando and rising with the Sun like a Phoenix, this Maverick talent also showed he was still a Texan gun-slinger in Dallas. Still may have warm milk forgot or arms folded ignored that the man who used to rip down nylon Nets in New Jersey (like he used to hang off them in a perfectly focussed pregame routine, kissing the rim), is in fact one of the greatest NBA players of the last dynamic decade and golden eras change. More than just Tracy McGrady's cousin and former teammate in a double-team and formidable franchise 'what could have been'. More than a former highlight reel that should now join Mac and stop filming and retire. This is a man that took off in Toronto and will always be married to Canadian hoops legacy for better or worse. So lets divorce ourselves from the worse for betters sake. Besides without this man Raptors basketball would truly be an endangered species.
Starting the engine out of Daytona Beach, Florida, Carter drove through his local high-school like the 500. Born, raised and on the hardwood playground is where he spent most of his extra curricula days. The McDonalds All-American was the extra cheese that brought Mainland High School their first title in over a half century. 56 years to be exact. This was enough to put tar on the heels of this kids spring-loaded sneakers as he joined the North Carolina alma-mater with college, locker-roommate Antwan Jamison. This guy was so good for the baby blue you could almost hear Nike shuffling the papers, getting a contract signed, sealed and delivered ready for their next Jordan out of the legendary college alumni. Even Barack Obama was a huge fan back when he wasn't even a president elect. All the dunks and the Final Four's Carter made as he ripped down twine without the need of scissors made it appear like this Carolina star had more than tar on his heels. This guy wasn't sticking to the floor, he was in a whole different air about to soar higher and higher, touching the sky. Before becoming the Rookie Of The Year, for the lockout shortened season (but like San Antonio have since proved that asterisk doesn't matter) of 1998/1999, Carter was selected and then swapped by the Golden State Warriors for his college friend Jamison. Switching for the fourth pick in that draft, the fifth wouldn't team up with his former college running mate but instead his cousin-a young upstart to the rim himself-Tracy McGrady up north in Canada for the Toronto Raptors. He led the Raps to the playoff promised land and took the previously clawed attention off country cousins the Vancouver Grizzlies in Canada's basketball bid in the NBA to be more than just a stick and puck land. From 1999 to 2001 when it came to the baseline, Vince Carter didn't waste time just ask Dr. Dre or Frederic Weis.
As a matter of fact just ask everyone holding the number 10 and that one kid creatively inspired holding a '110' (that was a more accurate figure), when Carter made Oakland his home in the year 2000, like the Golden State Warriors never really let him. Mid-February it was all love however. In the form of a 360, court cyclone windmill, a through the legs, gymnast spectacle and a cookie jar rim stuffing slam with a honey dip that delved further down the jar than Winnie and showed this dunk contest that there was only one top 50 winner. The dunk panel of legends couldn't believe it. NBA legend Isiaah Thomas couldn't contain his excitement like the top players from Shaq to Garnett going camera and cheekbone crazy courtside. Zeke leaping out his seat to shake the hand of the new torch bearer almost took the dunking arm off a man who almost lost it to the rim a dunk earlier. Who would have thought teammate and dunk assisting Tracy McGrady never even got a proper chance to showcase his slamming skills (still when these two Raptors took to the floor there was more excited anticipation then those two dinosaurs entering the kitchen on 'Jurassic Park')? This is a guy who a few All-Stars later wowed the crowds with an in-game, off the glass, alley-oop assist dunk to himself. One that we should note his cousin Carter replicated All-Stars later. If you thought all this was 'slamtacular' and put other dunks in their court coffins then you just had to have waited and seen the death by dunk that went Down Under in the Sydney Olympics. 'La Dunk De La Mort' the French called it, translation, 'The dunk of death'. In better, lamens terms, "HE JUMPED OVER HIS HEAD"! All 7 feet and two inches of Frederic Weis. Carter jumped right over him. Poor Weis was a good player and should have been remembered more than just being the ultimate poster and youtube video. But this may be one of the best and most Vinsane dunks not of just Carter's career, or the NBA, Olympics, whatever, but in all the world of basketball. In a career...a career still to this day, overflowing with greatest of all-time basketball flushes.
So why did it all go down the drain? Well it didn't...but it did swirl round for awhile. First McGrady left too eagerly-anticipated early to find Magic in Orlando with fellow wall forward/shooting guard, elite All-Star Grant Hill...oh the similarities and irony. With the phrase 'distant cousin' in literal effect the perfect partnership that Kobe said could have competed with him and Shaq for their three-peat crown wasn't meant to be. Simply put Carter was the man and from the Raptor on the jersey to the Air Canada Centre this man brought change to the culture of Canadian basketball. Still his game was more than the dynamic dunks that where show stopping and contest winning worthy even in-game. Youtube, highlight reel this guys top 100 and its like viewing a century countdown of Arnold Schwarzenegger movie quotes...this guy just doesn't stop. The defence was a lay-up line. The nose-bleeds as palpable as sitting courtside (remember that one against the Clippers where it looked like he Superman flew from the STAPLES crowd?), because everyone wanted a scoop of Carter's slam like Jackson's perfect piece on 'The Life and Times Of V. Carter'. Still what looked more and more like single-handedly (with all due respect to Antonio Davis, Alvin Williams and Jerome Williams (the 'Junkyard Dog' knew how to bark like Vin's bite too), Carter almost took Toronto to that O'Neal and Bryant promised land too. An epic, 2001 Eastern Conference Semi-Final, 7 game battle with the Philadelphia 76ers...or should we say Allen Iverson (and we all know how his MVP year turned out) was the makings of a modern day classic. Game for game, back and forth these guys stepped over each other with their video game like, box-score busting point totals and it all came down to the nylon wire and an off balance, out of bounds clutch Carter shot that rimmed out. You could almost hear the Canadian crowd brick their love for their hero too, despite it not being his fault. How do the Queen lyrics go? "I've paid paid my dues/time after time/I've done my sentence/but committed no crime". Vince may gave never got to hear 'We Are The Champions' over the jumbotron but anyone blaming the loss on a morning graduation celebration ceremony may need a diploma in real ball playing ethics. After this and many an injury injustice fans began to check out on Carter whilst accusing him of the same. It wasn't long before Air Canada left the country on the carrier of the same name.
Things are different in Toronto now for the Raptors. They had a Phoenix Suns of the East like resurgence until Chris Bosh took his talents and the towns new scorn to South Beach what should have been not two, but three or four titles ago. Now the sole Canadian franchise in NBA airspace plays in the Rogers Centre and its new, high-flying star kid Demar DeRozan who is wowing crowds and contests with his between the legs dunks, while Drake is the new man in town. You see the legacy that Vince's legend left still lasts. Just like in Brooklyn where the Nets and their former coach Kidd know just how good a player Carter was for them when he and they where in New Jersey after the trade. In the Garden State, Carter's game grew and bloomed from beyond just above the rim. Still after years of serving the high-flying tandem of Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson, Jason had new life when dishing dimes to a man who we should just call, 'The Dunk'. Alonzo's defence mourning can attest to that! Carter had a point to prove though, to critics not just in Toronto and in doing so he poured in the points...literally. I remember being in attendance for a game against the Washington Wizards where he went back and forth with old Carolina college friend Antwan Jamison like he was Iverson, or like they where going for career highs. If memory serves (like my forever, evergreen appreciation to the member of the Nets staff that out of nowhere gave me a free comp ticket (I see and thank you)) he had 25 by halftime...or maybe even just after the first. With all this and more just imagine if the Nets where playing in the B.K. then and not the Meadowlands, mowing down the opposition. Still no matter the area surrounding New York when Kidd leaves things don't last and soon Carter was off to the Magic Kingdom of Florida, but in Orlando he was not the man or the number one with a dunk in Dwight's Disneyland. Some Sun in Phoenix saw Carter rise to the assists of Steve Nash, but a perfect pair was reunited when Carter went to Dallas like Nash in reverse and joined Kidd again and of course Dirk Nowitzki to still show he was a Maverick when it came to dunking. More points where made by this former Toronto star, sullied by the press as he passed critics along with Larry Bird, Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler, Elgin Baylor and Adrian Dantley on the all-time, leading scoring list (as well as the likes of Peja Stojakovic and Rashard Lewis on the all-time threes). Even now three years from 40 the underrated three-point shooter is still a perimeter and power play force everytime he cranks up the motorbike. This guy is turning back the clutch clock like he has the portrait of Dorian Gray in his locker in this 'League of Extraordinary Gentelmen'. Now after some redemptive years on the road, Agent Carter's brand new season gets those dunking claws into another former Canadian side in the Grizzlies where he could still win big and don't worry its not all Memphis bleak for Tha Carter. This is thanks to a perennial team where he joins the frontcourt force of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and with a top Point Guard like Mike Conley setting the table you can expect some more highlight reels to add to the playlist mix. As Carter rocks in Memphis with a Canadian subplot twist its important to know that even though they and he are here the Raptors are still in Toronto thanks to him. Get Carter and go cold on him all you like but when his careers on ice and they check the fossils that will be his legacy. A legend more than his Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins dunking one. When Vince Carter ruled the earth. That's something that will never be extinct.