Happy Birthday, Vinsanity: TSFJ Celebrates Vince Carter

For over two decades, Vincent Lamar Carter has been a household name amongst basketball fans. Since his college days at the University of North Carolina until this very day, he has dazzled us with his incredible displays of aerial athleticism. January 26, 2019 marked his 42nd birthday. Here at The Sports Fan Journal, we acknowledge the various ways the man known as Vinsanity has impacted the culture.

Our founder Eduardo Maisonet III would have liked one landmark event of Carter's NBA career to have gone differently. "I wish he would have hit the game-winner in Game 7 against Allen Iverson [and the Philadelphia 76ers] to go to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals," Ed said in Saturday's Slack group chat. "He deserves being more than a basketball novelty as a dunker. Real ones know otherwise, but the gen pop can't be trusted with narratives."

Carter is more than a dunker. He's amassed over 25,000 points in his career -- even with that 25,000th point coming on a dunk. Over the course of a decade, Vince averaged almost 24 points a game, averaging at least 20 in each of those seasons from 1999-00 to 2008-09. He also shot 37.8 percent from three, proving he's a good shooter from distance. His shooting form allows for him to rise up over defenders and remain still and on balance to stay accurate. And despite earlier in his career being labeled as uninterested in basketball, he has his share of clutch shots that he's made throughout his now 21 years in the NBA. It is more than just basketball for Carter, as he's now been signed to be a steady veteran presence in the locker room of a team with a lot of young players. He's not asked to be a dominant scorer anymore, but he is still an effective player.

"Half Man, Half Amazing" is one of the nicknames Vince acquired over the years. I had the pleasure of seeing him play in person one time, in 2015 when Carter was a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. On a team with Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph -- all of whom were better players than Vince at this time -- Carter was still the most naturally gifted looking player on the floor. There is an ease to which he plays. He never looks like he's expending that much energy. His athleticism is simultaneously powerful and graceful, despite no longer being at the height of his powers. ESPN's Scott Van Pelt used to continuously say that once a game, "Vince Carter will do something to amaze you." Carter truly lives up to that moniker, to this day.

Vince is still even popular in music. Mya "Melody" Singleton mentioned in that TSFJ Slack group chat that rap artists like Drake, J. Cole and 2 Chainz have mentioned him in their songs, long after the time we would consider to be Vince Carter's basketball prime. This shows he had a cultural impact that still resonates today.

But of course, I cannot write this without mentioning Vince Carter's myriad of dunks. As I stated before about his athleticism, he perfectly combined the grace of leaping into the air with the power of flushing his dunks. In the famous 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, we remember all his dunks. From the 360-degree reverse windmill in the beginning to the "arm in the cookie jar" dunk as the penultimate dunk that sealed the win for him. If Vince isn't the best dunker of all time, he's certainly the best one since Michael Jordan retired.

At now 42, Vince has become a steady veteran presence in locker rooms, even as he is now a journeyman. His love for the game has been proven, and we have been fortunate to have him in the NBA. (Soaring Down South)

While Vince is the author of the best poster dunk ever (poor Frederic Weis), some of his best dunks are ones that aren't at the forefront of our minds. For example, you may be old enough to remember him dunking on Tim Duncan. But do you remember him crossing over on Kevin Willis then dunking on David Robinson in one continual motion (#8 in this video)? This is the perfect example of every element of athleticism. He had the quickness and agility to change direction, the balance to gather and jump with the strength to finish through contact. My personal favorite NBA dunk of his comes at the expense of former Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning. During his time with the then-New Jersey Nets, Carter gathered a loose ball with a behind-the-back dribble. Mourning prepared to challenge Carter at the rim. After absorbing the contact from a bigger man, Vince powered through and dunked the ball home. He still does his signature motorcycle celebration after a dunk, despite not hovering as high anymore.

Vince Carter is one of the best players of his generation. More than a dunker and a staple of our culture, he truly is half man, half amazing.

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