Vince Carter entered the NBA in 1998 when the Golden State Warriors drafted him fifth overall before shipping the forward to the Toronto Raptors. Carter was the face of the Toronto franchise upon joining the team and spent six and a half seasons playing in Canada.
In March 2020, after 22 years in the NBA in which Carter played 1,541 regular season games, he announced his retirement. The 43-year-old forward is hanging up his sneakers on his own terms after spending more than two decades playing the game he loves. The eight-time NBA All-Star leaves behind an illustrious career that saw him win the 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. That trophy wasn’t his only high point as Carter had a number of greatest NBA moments.
5. Playoff Duel with A.I.
The NBA had a burgeoning rivalry on its hands but due to inconsistencies and financial situations preventing Toronto and the Philadelphia 76ers from building long-term elite teams, fans never got to truly see Carter and Allen Iverson compete against each other for trophies. In 2001, the Raptors and 76ers met in the Eastern Conference’s semifinals with Iverson leading his team past Carter’s crew. Carter put in a tremendous series with 30.4 points per game as the Raptors pushed the No. 1 seed 76ers to seven highly entertaining games.
4. Haunting His Former Team
Carter’s relationship with Toronto and the city’s basketball fans were at an all-time high prior to December 2004. On December 17, he was traded to the New Jersey Nets due to a conflict with Raptors management as the team’s executives accused Carter of tanking it on the court. The forward got the last laugh when the teams met, however. In 2008, Carter led the Nets back from an 18-point deficit against Toronto scoring a season high 39 points and capping off the win with a reverse two-hand dunk.
3. Putting Toronto on the NBA Map
When Carter was traded to the Toronto Raptors by the Golden State Warriors, they had had three straight losing seasons. Of course, those were the first three seasons as a franchise after joining the NBA in 1995. In Carter’s first season with the team, the Raptors won 23 games, the second-most in their four-year existence. From there, the team’s fortunes changed as Toronto made the playoffs and had winning regular season record for the first time ever in 1999-2000.
2. NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest Winner
Carter’s 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year award was just the beginning of basketball fans taking notice of the former North Carolina Tar Heel. There were hopes that Carter could emulate former North Carolina player Michael Jordan and winning the 2000 NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest was more indication he could be the new Jordan. According to Betway, the contest showcased Carter wearing his new AND1 Tai Chi shoes which helped him soar to the win with an incredible reverse 360 windmill dunk.
1. Rookie of the Year Award
The 1998-99 NBA season was shortened due to a player lockout but that didn’t stop Carter from making an instant impact in Toronto. Carter played 50 games with 49 starts averaging 18.3 points per game. He shot 45% from the field and pulled down 5.7 rebounds per game. Carter beat out a list of stellar NBA rookies in 1999 which included Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison, and Mike Bibby.