Vince Carter is a decade removed from his best NBA days, but the Memphis Grizzlies reserve doesn’t plan on walking away from the league.
According to Lars Anderson of Bleacher Report, Carter said while he’s not totally content with a small bench role, he isn’t ready to leave basketball like Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is preparing to do.
“I respect the game of basketball so much that if my attitude was bad, I would walk away. I still can contribute. I know I can. There are guys like Kobe who just know that it’s time to leave the game. But I’m not there yet. Even if it’s me showing a rookie how to adjust to the NBA life or giving pointers to guys on the court, I know I can help this team.”
Carter, a first-round pick of the Toronto Raptors in 1998, was a tremendously popular figure during the first half of the new millennium. Along with Bryant, Tracy McGrady and others, Carter inspired the younger generation by soaring for thunderous dunks and draining long-range jumpers.
He also has experience in that leadership role.
Per Anderson, Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry said Carter “taught me so much about being a professional” and “always made time for me.” Dell Curry was a teammate of Carter’s for three seasons.
Carter has appeared in 34 games for the Grizzlies this season, averaging a career-low 3.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.6 assists. Yes, he’s posting just 13.1 minutes per contest and that’s the primary factor, but the per-36 minute numbers are still among Carter’s worst marks.
However, the 16-year veteran certainly isn’t “wasting” a roster spot. Carter can be a mentor for young players like James Ennis, JaMychal Green, Jarell Martin and Jordan Adams, some of whom aren’t quite ready to snatch that regular role away from Carter.
Until the end of his career, that’s the primary way Carter will contribute. ‘Tis the fate of our legends, but we’ll always remember what he once was.