Lost NBA Storylines: Vince Carter's Farewell

Ben Ladner

The coronavirus has left so much of the world in a state of uncertainty -- the NBA included. The league reportedly wants to resume its season, which was suspended on March 11, but will only do so once it is safe to play. That could leave the rest of the regular season, the playoffs, and even some of the 2021 season in jeopardy, and risks leaving the current year incomplete. 

On Sunday, SI's Elizabeth Swinton examined some of the on-court ramifications that could stem from a lost season, including the Lakers' and Bucks' pursuit of a championship and the abrupt conclusion of Vince Carter's 22-year career. The 43-year-old wasn't prepared for Atlanta's double-overtime loss to the Knicks to be his final time in an NBA uniform, but if the season doesn't come back, Carter will have sunk the last shot of his NBA career -- a high-arcing 3-pointer from the top of the key: 

"If the season is canceled, fans will be robbed of seeing Carter for just a few more moments—and of a proper goodbye," Swinton wrote. "But if that really was it for Half-Man, Half-Amazing, it was great to see him have at least one more standout moment in his storied career." 

Storylines That Would Be Lost if the NBA Season Is Canceled

The NBA wants to salvage its suspended season, but the potential of a champion not being crowned may eventually become a reality. Game-play and practice facilities remain shut down nearly three weeks after the NBA suspended its season.

“It’s a weird way to say I’m calling it a career,” Carter said after that game. “At least I scored my last basket.” 

Carter seldom played up the fact that 2019-20 would be his final season in the NBA, but fans and players in away arenas expressed their appreciation for the veteran throughout the year, showering him with cheers and chants as he took the court for the final time in various cities. This season he became the NBA leader in seasons played, and moved into third place in games played, trailing only Robert Parish and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

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The NBA season is suspended indefinitely, and with it, every hope, question, and expectation we might have had for it. It's a cruel twist that one of the more compelling seasons of the last decade would be cut short by a global pandemic, but so it goes as the nation shuts down and awaits a resolution to the COVID-19 crisis.

In his two years with the Hawks, Carter averaged 6.3 points 35.5 percent 3-point shooting in 136 games. This year, those figures dipped to 5.0 and 30.2, respectively, as his playing time and effectiveness waned (his final shot pushed him above the 30 percent mark from 3). 

If he never competes on an NBA court again, Carter says he's at peace with the way his journey ended -- even if it came under unusual circumstances. 

"Basketball has been good to me,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed each and every moment of it, good and bad. So if this is it, it’s all good."