One of the last remnants of the New Jersey Nets, Carter produced some classic moments after coming south from Canada in 2004.
The cure to Vinsanity has finally been found.
Vince Carter’s two-plus decade reign on the National Basketball Association came to end this week, as the North Carolina alum and Daytona-born dunk master announced his retirement on Thursday. Carter previously played for the New Jersey Nets, his second of eight teams visited during his 21 seasons of service. He came over in a trade with his original squad, the Toronto Raptors, in December 2004 before the Nets dealt him to Orlando in 2009.
Words can perhaps do no justice for Carter’s illustrious NBA career. Hence, we’ll let Vinsanity himself do the talking, counting down his finest moments in New Jersey’s jersey….
4/2/05: New Jersey Magic
As the Nets carried on a playoff push against the Orlando Magic, Carter, a man more well known for his dunks, made it clear that his neighbors at Giants Stadium would have to worry about competition from his passes as well. New Jersey eventually fell to Orlando, but Carter made it clear that the next few weeks were about to be fun with a behind-the-back, no-look pass that landed into the hands of the wide-open, and presumably surprised Nenad Kristic, who slammed the easy couple home.
4/15/05: Jurassic Snark
Carter waited four months to go back across the border to take on the Raptors. The Montreal Canadiens might’ve gotten a more welcome reception than what Carter dealt with at Air Canada Centre that night, jeering their former savior every time he touched the ball. Carter played into the antagonist role, arriving to the arena dressed in a Julius Erving jersey, having unsuccessfully lobbied for Dr. J to become the Toronto general manager before his departure. To make matters worse, the long-eliminated Raptors jumped out to a 14-point halftime time as the Nets would battling Cleveland for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Carter went on to put on a throwback performance, much to the chagrin of his former purple public. He tallied 39 points, including 24 in the second half, as the Nets took a 101-90 decision. That win kickstarted a four-game, season-ending winning streak that allowed the Nets to fend off the Cavaliers and take an unlikely playoff berth after starting the 2004-05 season with a 7-16 mark B.C. (before Carter).
4/28/05: Miami Nice
The Nets’ reward for clawing their way into the 2005 postseason was a first-round matchup with a Miami Heat squad in the midst of its first Shaquille O’Neal/Dwyane Wade collaboration. New Jersey was swept in four games but Carter turned up the Heat on…well, the Heat…with a thrilling performance in Game 3 in front of the Garden State. Over a decade before Kawhi Leonard made it mainstream, Carter mastered the suspenseful buzzer-beater. With the Nets down 99-97 in an overtime session, Carter would-be equalizer initially clanked off the rim, but sank through to send the Meadowlands into hysterics. The Heat eventually prevailed, but Carter’s performance was not to be forgotten. He put in 36 points and 10 assists in the double-overtime tilt in which he was on the floor for all but two minutes.
11/7/05: Mourning Glory
Carter and his future Springfield neighbor Alonzo Mourning will be forever linked. “Zo” was part of the package that was sent to Toronto to gain the Carter privilege. Mourning never played a game for the Raptors and instead returned to familiar surroundings in Miami. Carter indirectly played up their connection with a show-stopping dunk over the 6’10 center, one that caused Mourning to cease all contact with him for “six or seven years“. Mourning wasn’t the only Miami representative that Carter fooled out of his shoes. His epic dunk was immediately preceded by a behind-the-back dribble that stymied Jason Williams after getting the loose ball off a Richard Jefferson miss.
12/23/05: The Best Things in Life Are Free (Throws)
Carter took his 2005 talents to South Beach just before Christmas and the Heat were happy to give him plenty of presents. En route to tying his career-best of 51 points, Carter made 24 visits to the foul line, sinking all but one. He made NBA history as the Nets closed out a 95-88 victory as his 16 fourth-quarter singles were good for the most in league history.
1/8/06: Woe, Canada
Carter gave it his all whenever he touched the floor at Air Canada Centre. Unfortunately for Raptors fans, that included the occasions he came back to visit as an opponent. He capped off a 42-point performance against his original employers with a three-pointer that fell through the net at the literal last second, giving the Nets a 105-104 road win. It was one of five times that Carter reached at least 40 points during the 2005-06 season, one that ended with an Atlantic Division title.
5/2/06: Setting the Pace
The Indiana Pacers had previously given the future Eastern Conference champion Nets a run for their money during 2002’s first round. They were well on their way to doing the same thing during a 2006 rematch, tying their set at two-apiece heading back to Continental Airlines Arena. Carter’s antics, to the tune of 34 points and 15 rebounds, gave the Nets a 92-86 victory and permanently put the series forever in their favor. He followed things up with 24 points in the Game 6 clincher at Conseco Fieldhouse.
5/12/06: Woke Up This Mourning
The Eastern Conference Finals proved elusive for Carter and the Nets, but they still managed to make some memories during their time together. New Jersey ran into Miami again, this time playing a Heat squad that was en route to the championship. Mourning may have gotten a ring, but Carter got a slight last laugh when he put him on another poster just before halftime. The Nets did manage to steal a game from Miami this time around, in part thanks to a 27-point performance from Carter in Game 1 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
1/29/07: The Jazz Sing the Blues
33 points and a deep triple as time expired in a road victory? All in a day’s work for Carter, who accomplished exactly that in a 116-115 win over the Utah Jazz. The three-pointer in question was particularly impressive, launched at the midway points between the line and midcourt as three defenders were closing in on him.
12/11/06: Good Things Come in (VC) Threes
Every Carter Jersey triple was marked by the exclamations of Nets public address man Gary Sussman, who would loudly declare “that’s a V! C! Three!!!” after every conversion. Appropriately then, Carter set his career-best in triples in a Nets uniforms, sinking nine in a 102-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
3/24/07: Tar Heel Turn
Carter had a knack for haunting his former stomping grounds, including his collegiate settings of North Carolina. The deceased Bobcats were the victim in a March 2007 showdown, though they seemed ready to keep victory in their jaws when Jason Kidd’s potential game-winning three-pointer fell short with the home team ahead 96-94. Carter, however, got his hands on the ball before it fell and put in a reverse dunk to send things to overtime. He kept the heroics going in the extra session, scoring 10 of the Nets’ 17 points en route to a 113-107 victory.
4/7/07: The Kidd and I
The mid-2000s of the Eastern Conference, particularly the Nets’ Atlantic Division was cutthroat for all the wrong reasons. New Jersey would hover around the .500 mark for a majority of the season, all while battling for the middle spots of the conference playoff picture. Toward the end, the Nets battled Washington for postseason positioning, and Carter would set the tone early with 17 first-quarter points. It was the first part of a triple-double effort for Carter, one of two he’d earn during the 2006-07 campaign. His 46-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist output came alongside a 10-point, 16-rebound, 18-assist from Kidd, and the Nets squeaked out a 120-114 overtime victory over the Wizards. Another late playoff push awaited, as the Nets won five of their final six games to clinch the East’s sixth seed, where they would top, who else, the Toronto Raptors in a six-game first round.
That win over Toronto was Carter’s final playoff series win in New Jersey. He played a major role in dispatching the Raptors, pacing the series with a 25-point average. He shifted momentum toward the New Jersey side with a 37-point showing in Game 3 at The Meadowlands, as the Nets took away a 102-89 win.
11/21/08: Canada Cry
Carter’s New Jersey career wouldn’t be complete without one last disposal of the Raptors, right? He had one last divisional parting gift for the north, a 39-point showing and extra basketball in the form of a three-pointer that sent the game to overtime. To cap things off, Carter sent the crowd home disgruntled in the form of a reverse-alley-oop off an inbound feed from Bobby Simmons, allowing the Nets to take a 129-127 win back with them across the border.
1/2/09: Atlanta Hawks Down
The final years of the Carter era in New Jersey were spent at the onset of a Nets rebuild, but he still managed to provide some heroics in the midst of cold East Rutherford evenings. One such memory came in an overtime thriller against Atlanta, when Carter sank one of his signature “VC threes” at the end of a 93-91 victory that sent the Meadowlands faithful home happy.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags