Vince Carter came to the Nets during the prime of his career and he deserves to have his number retired by the organization.
Vince Carter probably played his last game against the Nets on Friday. Entering the game, Carter and the media were expecting a tribute video from his former team. That didn’t happen, but the Nets and their fans gave Carter a standing ovation before the game and again when Carter was subbed out in the fourth quarter. According to NBA.com’s Alex Labidou, Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson praised Carter during his return.
“First of all, it’s shocking how long he’s played in this league. Obviously his legacy with the Nets, I really enjoyed watching him play and still watching him play. I think it shows how smart of a player he is, that he can keep playing at this age. It’s almost like those old pitchers who at 42 learn how to change speeds and keep guys off rhythm. So impressive, very impressive.”
After the game, Carter was questioned regarding the possibility of the organization retiring his number 15. Carter told Brian Lewis of the New York Post: “It would be a dream come true. When you hear people talk about it, of course. For years to come, you walk in here and see your name in the rafters in an arena, a professional arena, that’s your dream come true for every player. It’s a goal for guys. It means you’ve had a phenomenal career for that team. I would never tell them no, I’ll tell you that.”
One of the oldest players in the NBA. Carter is expected to retire after this season, his 20th in the league.
Vinsanity was traded by the Toronto Raptors to the New Jersey Nets on Dec. 17, 2004. Carter requested a trade due to consistent frustration with the ownership and personnel of the Raptors.
Carter immediately became a Nets fan favorite and was one of the league leaders in jerseys sold. Carter joined a team, that along with Jason Kidd and a young Richard Jefferson had high hopes of winning. Due to injuries, the trio rarely shared the court together, but Carter helped lead the 2004-05 Nets to the playoffs. He also was named an Eastern Conference All-Star and ended the season averaging 27.5 points per game.
The 2005-2006 season was not only Carter’s best season as an NBA player, It was also one of the best regular seasons in New Jersey Nets history.
Carter’s consistent play and highlight-reel dunks, along with the excellent guard play of Kidd, propelled the Nets to the Atlantic Division title. The Nets also secured the third overall seed in the playoffs due to their 49 regular season wins. Carter averaged 24.2 points and 4.2 assists per game.
The North Carolina product averaged 29.6 points per game throughout the playoffs but the season ended at the hands of the Miami Heat in a five-game Eastern Conference Finals.
Carter was again selected as an Eastern Conference All-Star—his eight consecutive and final selection—but this time as a reserve. The Nets finished the season with a .500 record (41-41) and a second-place finish in the Atlantic.
That was enough to secure the sixth seed in the East and pitted Carter against his former team, the Toronto Raptors, in the first round. While they got past the Raptors, Cleveland proved too much for the Nets. Vince ended the season averaging 25.2 points per game.
Carter signed a four-year, $61 million extension with the Nets before the season, but things weren’t great in Jersey. The Nets traded Carter’s longtime running mate, Kidd, to Dallas at the All-Star break, making Vince the team’s official captain. But they couldn’t overcome the loss of their floor general and ended their season with a 34-48 record, missing the playoffs and finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference.
Much like the 2007-2008 season, New Jersey struggled and ultimately shipped Carter to the Orlando Magic. Getting rid of his contract was the only way for a full rebuild to begin.
Carter is one of the best players to wear a Nets uniform. He brought excitement every time he was on the court from electrifying dunks to thrilling buzzer beaters. Carter was the main reason for success during his years in New Jersey. The Nets were never able to win a championship or appear in an NBA Finals but Carter did all he could. His number 15 should be hanging up in the rafters once Carter decides to end his outstanding career.