The opportunity to watch an NBA legend up close on a daily basis occurs rarely for a fanbase. Mavs fans have been fortunate enough to be graced with the presence of Dirk for the last 16 years, but an extra treat has been bestowed upon the fanbase over the last three years with the play of one man: Vince Carter.
Carter arrived in Dallas in 2012 hoping to chase a title with the then defending champion Dallas Mavericks. Before joining the Mavs, Vince had been lambasted at each of his previous stops: his lethargic play in Phoenix, his disappearing acts in Orlando, and the flat-out tank job he executed to flee Toronto.
The narrative of Vince Carter was laid in stone: He simply was not a “winner.”
Upon his arrival in Dallas, Vince quickly began exhibiting behavior that could change the fundamental nature of his narrative. Vince took it upon himself to mentor younger guards like Rodrigue Beaubois, OJ Mayo, and Darren Collison. Furthermore, he fully committed himself on the defensive end, becoming one of the more savvy perimeter defenders for the Mavericks. The mere sight of Vince Carter taking a charge had once been unthinkable, but it had become routine with this new age Vince Carter.
Vince provided a real spark off the bench. He shot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc in each season he was here. Not to mention his connection with Brandan Wright, which became one of the deadliest pick and roll combinations in the league. Vince provided a vitality to the bench that would not have otherwise existed without his presence.
What I’ll miss most about Vince are the subtle things he did to remind us just how talented he really was. After nearly every dead ball, Vince would hoist a long left-handed jumper with the same effortless form as his right hand.
Every so often he’d show glimpses of “half man half amazing” with an aerial assault on the rim. Each time he attacked the rim, he displayed the god-like body control he possessed; it was Jordanesque.
Most importantly, Vince played harder than any other Maverick over the last three years when he really didn’t have to. He came here expecting to compete for titles, not the eighth seed. Regardless, Vince brought maximum effort every night, and it was simply a joy to watch.
Finally, Vince provided the single greatest Dallas Maverick moment since the championship run: the game-winning shot against the Spurs. I’ll never forget the pure ecstasy I felt (and I’m sure the rest of Mavs Nation felt) for the duration of that day. That shot is forever engrained in my sports memory.
For that, and all the other contributions you gave over the last three years, I thank you Vince. You earned every penny of that contract from the Grizzles. Best of luck to you, but please don’t hit any buzzer-beaters against us.