I watched the Suns-Thunder game Wednesday night and was awestruck to watch Vince Carter playing like it was 2003. He was fantastic! He made offensive play after offensive play and was in such a groove that everyone in the building seemed to be waiting for him to do something special. It’s interesting to me that I initially typed ‘be’ instead of ‘do’. Most NBA fans have always expected him to ‘be’ legendary instead of just ‘doing’ some legendary things.
Carter made strength moves, speed moves, balance moves, lefty drives, baseline drives, fading jumpers and one spin move into a dunk that fewer than ten other guys in the league could pull off. It was a tantalizing reminder of how great Carter could have been. He’s one of the most physically gifted players I’ve ever seen and has always had phenomenal basketball skills. Carter really should have been the Chrissie to Kobe Bryant’s Martina.
But where talented athletes like Martina, Chrissie and Kobe were all obsessed with their sporting success, Vince has always seemed content to stay on the periphery of greatness. He has never been willing to push himself to develop new skills or average 10 free throws a game or dominate defensively. Usually, folks ask ‘what if’ about guys like Grant Hill, or even Vince’s cousin, Tracy McGrady who saw their careers limited by physical injuries to ankles, knees or feet. Folks will always ask ‘what if’ about Vince too. But not about his ankles, about his heart.