Vince Carter made his return as a member of the Atlanta Hawks to what he still affectionately calls the Air Canada Centre, and who can blame him. From the bowels of the Scotiabank Arena, the 41-year-old took the time after morning shootaround to share some thoughts on a variety of topics, and here’s the best of what came from it.
What has kept you going all these years?
Just doing it so long. It’s part of my every day routine. For 21 years now, I’ve just prepared the same way. I’m just not tired of it. It’s hard work and it’s a little tougher than it was 10 years go, but I still enjoy the grind. I don’t mind flying late on the plane or four games in five nights. I can’t imagine not doing it. Even in a pre-season game. I’m fine, I’m good. That’s what enjoy still. When I don’t enjoy it or want to go and workout and put the work in, I’m definitely walking away from the game, because that’s disrespecting the game. I have to put the work in to be able to compete at this level.
Can you imagine life without it?
Not today. When I can’t imagine myself without it, I’ll probably have had enough.
Favorite VC moment?
It’s not one. Obviously being drafted, just because of how all of that went down – being traded on draft night, talking with Antwan. ‘What you didn’t work out with the team’ – that whole weird thing and then going into the second half of my rookie year and winning the rookie-of-the-year, going from being one of the guys, another rookie to talking about I could possibly win the rookie of the year.
I just remember not being talked about or ‘oh yeah, he’s athletic’ and then all of sudden playing well enough and winning rookie-of-the-year and holding that trophy up. And the other one is winning the dunk contest and representing Toronto in the all-star game as leading vote getter, it doesn’t get any better than that. When some elite superstars were still in the game. I can say that at one point I had more votes that Michael Jordan. I did. You can’t beat that.
Challenges in managing social media as an athlete today
It’s tough. I can’t imagine social media being around in 2000. I can’t. They ask me all the time, ‘how many followers do you think you’d have?’ I can’t imagine. So, I just tell the guys now who love it, utilize social media for what it’s worth, but you can’t get engulfed in it to where it affects your life and your job and they can kind of go from there. People say a lot of cruel things on social media or the arena just because they can and sometimes we let that get to us but that’s just the way it is. It’s just the harsh reality of it, but at the same time, social media is good for guys to promote their business, promote themselves for whatever they’re trying to accomplish.
I just tell guys, use it for what you need, don’t feel like you always have read social media and have to be on social media for whatever. It may sound old school and ‘oh, you’re new to this,’ back at that time, we figured out how to promote ourselves when there wasn’t social media with a radio interview or a phone call. Now, that’s just how it goes and guys have been burned from it, just learn from mistakes.
I always tell guys, when you get to a team, if you don’t want to learn about the history of the game, cool, learn about the history of the team and what has gone on. What have guys gone through, ups and downs, good and bad, and I think you’ll educate yourself and make better decisions.
Anything new you want to accomplish?
New? Ummmm. New. Um. Not really. I mean, the only thing that would be new to accomplish at this point, obviously winning ac championship, that’s obvious. But just the longest career. I know now that I’m tired with a few guys and it’s something I wasn’t aware of, prior to even a few years back. I didn’t think about that. I mean, I didn’t come in thinking about playing this long anyway, and I don’t know where I got 15 years at. If you go and look you’ll see I said 15 years, I don’t know where I got that from.
But now I’m just like, in the summertime I work hard and prepare myself as if I’m in my 30s, and preparing for the next season, and that’s kind of been my approach, and that’s what I do, that’s what I know. And every new team, or if I’m coming back to a team I was already on, I work that hard too try to win a spot. And that’s kind of been my mentality.
When I walked into the Hawks I was probably the last guy to sign, and I walked into that gym like, I’ve got to go earn a spot. And he said you just need to be you, and a veteran, and so forth. And I told him, I’m also coming to earn a spot on the team. It’s like, you’ve earned it, you’ve been around, and I’m appreciative of that, but I like to kind of set the tone for it, especially with a young team, set the tone and don’t expect anything given to you and just go earn it, and you’ll appreciate it down the line. I think we’re starting to learn that, and we’re playing better basketball because of it.
Thought about this being your last game here?
I haven’t. And I apologize if I decide otherwise down the line, but I don’t think that way. When the season’s over I always plan on hey, let me just see, assess how I’m feeling and go through the summer, get ready for next year. And that’s what’s going to happen when the season’s over. I know I’m going to be asked, oh, what are you thinking now?
But I’ll tell you what’s going to happen: I’m going to go through the summer, prepare as if I’m going to play again, and I think at that time, in the middle of the summer, either I love it and I’m going to keep going and preparing, or I’m going to go, that’s enough.