20 years after the honey dip, the longest-tenured player in NBA History lets go.
I first fell in love with basketball playing NBA Live 2004. It was during the game’s intro (featuring a basketball-themed remix of Chingy’s “Right Thurr”) that I learned about Vince Carter’s iconic dunk contest performance, which he delivered 3 ½ years earlier at The Arena In Oakland. Two years before that, Carter was drafted fifth overall by the Warriors, and was immediately traded to Toronto for Antwan Jamison. My first Warriors memory is of Jamison scoring 51 points on back-to-back nights, defeating Kobe Bryant in a 51-point duel during the latter leg.
In the first basketball game I ever attended, Jamison, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas outlasted Latrell Sprewell and the Knicks at The Arena in Oakland. This was in February of 2003.
The 17 seasons that have unfolded since all featured a post-peak version of Carter. His prime continued in New Jersey — where I now work, though my office is the only vestige of NBA basketball left in the state— but “Vinsanity” was over. By the time “Linsanity” swept New York, Carter was clearly on the back nine. He was 35, playing for his fourth team in four seasons. That fourth stop saw him join Dirk Nowitzki and a defending-champion Mavs team that barred Kobe Bryant’s Lakers from a three-peat the previous spring.
During his second year in Dallas (2012–13), Carter shot 40.6% from 3 on 2.0 makes. Last year in Atlanta (2018–19), he shot 38.9% on 1.6 makes. The greatest dunker in NBA history is now sixth on the all-time made 3-pointers list.
Up until yesterday, Carter was still active in the NBA. Jamison, Richardson, Arenas, Sprewell, Lin, Kobe, Dirk and The Arena in Oakland were not. NBA Live still exists, though it was defunct for three years from 2010–2012. Chingy hasn’t released an album in 10 years, though he is now a record producer. I’m still in love with basketball.