Does this sound like a Hall of Fame Worthy resume for an NBA player?
The only player in North Carolina basketball history who was offered a scholarship on the spot by Bill Guthridge. McDonald’s All-American. He’s scored over 20,000 points. 8-Time All-Star. Greatest Slam Dunk Champion of all-time. Rookie of the Year. Scored 27.6 points per game in 2001.
He’s jumped over a 7’2” Frenchman in the Summer Olympics. During a game.
He was on the the cover of NBA Live 2004. Holds the record for most threes made in a playoff game. Allen Iverson aside, he was arguably the most exciting player in the NBA for a five-year span.
So why isn’t Vince Carter considered a sure-fire Hall-Of-Fame player?
We all know about Vince’s tendencies to play hurt, be soft, an All-Star gimmick, not really a leader, undependable, afraid to go into the paint, Canada hates him, etc. And truthfully, if it wasn’t for that John Thompson interview where he talked about “not giving it all” taken completely out of context, our perception of Vince would change.
Looking at the 1998 NBA Draft, it’s probably one of the most underrated draft classes in the 1990s. You have Mike Bibby, Dirk Nowitzki, Antawn Jamison and Paul Pierce. Out of all those players, you can make a legitimate case for Dirk and Pierce being Hall of Fame worthy. We all know about Pierce’s theatrics: His tendency to be soft, out of shape and a bit cocky. But we give him the benefit of the doubt because of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and that one ring. Truthfully, if it wasn’t for that trade, Pierce, stat-for-stat WOULD BE Carter but with a struggle beard.
The Hall-of-Fame credentials are mainly reliant on two things: rings and stats. Karl Malone (hate him) is the epitome of stats with no rings. Bill Russell is the epitome of rings with no stats (not his fault). Everyone falls below that umbrella. Carter doesn’t have the hardware, but take a look at this.
Out of all those 20,000-point scorers, only Tom Chambers and Mitch Richmond aren’t HOF’s. And both of their cases are debatable as well.
In terms of impact, let’s not forget: Carter single handed brought a basketball following to the entire country of Canada. The entire country of Canada was on his shoulders. He had the highest selling jersey for two years, beating out Allen Iverson. He was a Sportscenter highlight-film for the ages. He may have accidentally made the dunk contest irrelevant after his 2000 performance, but his impact on the game is still here. The only thing that hurts Vince as far HOF hopes is that his game hasn’t translated well after he got jumper’s knee, and his reputation. Let’s not forget how great he could have with been Toronto Raptors, and that maybe that situation isn’t his fault entirely.
The front office stopped listening to him. They turned down Julius Irving (his mentor) to be the GM of the Raptors. They drafted Rapheal Ararujo over Steve Nash (Canadian). He clashed with Sam Mitchell. He’s probably the only athlete criticized for attending his graduation the day of the game (where he balled). After being vilified, he was traded to New Jersey Nets, where he reinvented himself as a reliable sidekick to Jason Kidd. He had several productive years with the Nets, even earning a playoff berth (in the East, meh). He’s bounced around a bit, but is now a complementary for the Dallas Mavericks at a productive level.
I see Blake Griffin now, and I turn into a kid when I watch him. But I remember a time where I did the same with Vince Carter. Especially in the All-Star Game. And when I see Griffin play, I always tell myself, I hope he doesn’t become Vince Carter………after reading this, maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.
Stats and highlights certainly help Vince Carter’s case. He is truly the 2nd coming of Dominique Wilkins, a HOF with stats not nearly as impressive as Carter.
But if you disagree, at least retire his jersey in Toronto….