Old heads, it’s time to raise your glasses of Geritol. An NBA legend is vowing to make Metamucil great again. Vince Carter, the NBA’s gracefully-aging graybeard will roam the courts again.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 42-year-old Carter will return to the Atlanta Hawks for the 22nd, and final, season of his storied NBA career. Once the season starts, Carter will set a new NBA record for longevity, breaking the 21-season tie he currently shares with Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis.
Carter was drafted as the fifth overall pick of the 1998 NBA Draft. In 1998, the average cost of gas was $1.15 per gallon, AOL was the most visited website in the world and a small startup called Google had just opened its doors.
Teammate Trae Young was still marinating in his mother’s belly as Carter, fully 90s baggy suit swag intact, crossed the stage and shook hands with then-commissioner David Stern.
Early in his career, Carter dazzled as a high-scoring, higher-flying shooting guard for the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets. In 2000, he put on a virtuoso performance in the slam dunk contest that cemented his status as one of the greatest dunkers of all-time.
While the 2000 slam dunk contest made him a legend, it was a dunk during the Olympics later that year that made him a certified basketball god.
Carter had initially been passed over for the Sydney Olympics for Ray Allen. He was later added as an injury replacement for Tom Gugliotta. Miffed about the initial snub, Carter played with a chip on his shoulder.
That chip was never more evident than when Team USA faced off against France in the gold medal game. Armed with a 15-point lead, but eager to add to it, Carter stole a pass around the hash mark. He took two dribbles then took flight towards 7-foot-2 center Frederic Weis.
What happened next was the greatest in-game dunk in basketball history. Period.
Carter soared over the head of the giant Frenchman and threw down a vicious tomahawk dunk. Weis looked confused as to what just happened. Team USA power forward Vin Baker looked as if he’d just witnessed a decapitation. Kevin Garnett was, well, Kevin Garnett.
Weis had been drafted by the Knicks in 1999 but was still under contact playing in France. He never made it to the NBA. Part of the reason is because Carter’s dunk instantly transformed him from a prospect into a punchline.
I’ll never forget the moment I saw that slam dunk. Due to the NBC tape delay, I had already read about the dunk and couldn’t wait until I made it back to my college dorm room to see the game. When I arrived, I discovered the game was on earlier than expected. The airing was already in the second half. Less than two minutes after I tuned in, Carter ended Weis’ basketball career.
I went absolutely nuts. I ran around the room in circles, yelling as if I had won a gold medal or a million dollars. The dunk was graceful, powerful and patriotic.
These days, Carter does not rise up quite as high or quite as often as he did back in the day. Instead of being an uber-explosive scoring machine, he’s now more of a mentor. The past five seasons, Carter has averaged around 17 minutes per game, primarily as a reserve. He is there to make the right basketball play. He’s there to share his wisdom with one of the youngest teams in the NBA.
Players like Mike Bibby, Raef LaFrentz, Jason Williams and St. Louis’ own Larry Hughes, who were drafted alongside Carter, have been retired for around a decade. Meanwhile, old man Carter is still roaming the hardwood.
“I still love the game. I love to compete,” Carter told ESPN’s Lisa Salters during an interview last season. “If you love it, you’re willing to do whatever it takes. It’s still basketball. When you get on the court, you still do the same thing you’ve done all your career.”
Good luck to Carter in his farewell season. Hopefully, Atlanta will go to see a few more Vinsanity moments in Carter’s swan song.
Hispanic family harassed at Texas Rangers game
I know The St. Louis American is targeted to an African American audience, but I’d be remiss if I ignored an awful experience a Hispanic family suffered at a Texas Rangers baseball game.
According to the Dallas Morning News, “The Rangers are investigating an incident of harassment toward a Hispanic family from Fort Worth that took place at Globe Life Park in Arlington only hours after the deadly Walmart shooting in El Paso on Saturday.”
A woman named Jessica Romero, took a photo, which she later posted to Facebook, with her family while at a Rangers game. In the background, a white male is seen making an obscene gesture, clearly intended to be visible to the camera.
Romero stated that the man continuously made racist and disparaging remarks towards Hispanics. He repeated Trumpian tropes such as “build the wall” and when a child accidentally kicked his seat, the man threatened to kick “Speedy Gonzalez all the way back to Mexico.”
Black St. Louisans know a little bit about racist baseball fans. Ferguson protestors were called “crackheads” by white Cardinals fans during a demonstration near Busch Stadium in 2014. The fans also chanted “Let’s Go Darren [Wilson]!” and “Africa! Africa!” in response to calls for social justice and equality.
People often talk about the desire to separate sports from politics, but the truth is, the two can never be separated.
According to the Rangers, the organization has reached out to the Romero family and apologized for the racist fan’s behavior. The franchise has also pledged to make the Romero family’s next Rangers game a memorable one.
Follow Ishmael and In the Clutch online at stlamerican.com and on Twitter @ishcreates.