43-year-old Hawks wing Vince Carter chatted about his upcoming retirement after a record-setting 22 NBA seasons, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Kirschner detailed the scene following Carter’s game on Wednesday night, in which Atlanta fell 136-131 to the Knicks in overtime.
The Hawks discovered that the season was going to be at least postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic during the fourth quarter, as big man John Collins attempted free throws. Carter checked in with just 20 seconds left in overtime and knocked down a three-pointer.
“This was fun. If it ended today, this day and the end of the season with these last 16 games will be talked about for a very long time,” Carter said. “That’s something I’ll always remember. At least I scored my last basket. It’s a weird but cool memory.”
While Carter figures to play down the stretch for the Hawks if and when the season resumes, there’s a chance that Wednesday’s game will be the last time he plays in front of fans. If the coronavirus situation worsens and the NBA is forced to cancel its season, it will be the last time Carter plays at all, which prompted his postgame comments.
“I work so hard to be in shape and play this game to compete against young guys half my age, so I wanted to go out and play the game,” Carter said. “When you say, ‘How old is he again? Oh, he looks like he can still play.’ That’s the feeling — that’s like a championship because each and every night you play against another young guy and they say, ‘Man, I don’t see how you’re doing it. You look like you could play a couple of years.’ That’s like winning a championship in my mind.
“Some people probably don’t see it that way. I think sitting on the end of the bench and not being able to be a part of it — that would get me more than anything. It’s been a great ride.”
For the season, the eight-time All-Star is averaging 5.0 PPG and 2.1 RPG. Carter’s career slash line is a more impressive 16.7 PPG/4.3 RPG/3.1 APG. The 6’6″ University of North Carolina alum has scored 25,728 career points, the 22nd-most in league history.
Last night, in light of the league’s indefinite suspension of game play for the 2019/20 season, Carter posted a tweet expressing gratitude to fans for his final season. “If this is really it, I thank everyone for your love and support for all these years,” Carter said in part.