If you grew up watching basketball in the early 2000s, you got blessed to be able to see Vince Carter in his prime. At his height, he threw down some of the most ridiculous dunks ever seen. He became the face of the Toronto Raptors before embarking on a Hall of Fame-worthy career.
But before Vinsanity took his talents to the NBA, he actually starred on another court. In high school, Carter became a volleyball star. And that would have never happened if he hadn’t broken his wrist.
Vince Carter’s rise to NBA stardom
Following a terrific three years at the University of North Carolina, Vince Carter took his talents to the NBA. After arriving in Toronto via a draft-night deal, he became the face of the Raptors. In just his second season, Carter averaged 25.7 points and made his first NBA All-Star team.
As one of the top young talents in the league, he earned a spot on the 2000 Olympic team. He famously dunked over 7-foot-2 French center Frederic Weis. Carter played a pivotal role in helping the United States capturing gold that year.
Throughout his entire Raptors career, Carter displayed tantalizing vertical ability. He became a human highlight reel you never wanted to miss. The perennial All-Star couldn’t get Toronto over the hump, though.
The New Jersey Nets acquired Carter in a massive trade. Despite approaching 30, he turned in some of his best work. New Jersey’s top player averaged 23.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in 374 appearances.
At that time, few NBA players could compete with Vince Carter’s star power. He had arrived. However, the Florida native had experienced stardom on another court years ago. And it had nothing to do with dunking a basketball.
A broken wrist led to a standout volleyball career
Like many pro athletes, Carter grew up playing multiple sports. Getting exposure to different environments, coaches, teammates, and concepts can help an athlete develop a more well-rounded skill set. Carter played football, but that ended quickly. According to ESPN, he broke his wrist as a freshman QB.
That led the high-schooler to harness his athletic gifts on the volleyball court. Incredibly, Carter won the Volusia County Player of the Year honors in 1993 after picking up the game just a year earlier. In USA Today, he relayed the thought process behind getting involved in volleyball.
“I felt volleyball was important for my second jump,” he said. “I began to enjoy the sport, so I played it for three years … I knew the game would translate for what I was trying to accomplish and become a professional basketball player.”
Of course, Carter gave up his volleyball career and went forward with basketball. That proved to be a good decision.
The end of an era
Clearly blessed with rare athletic genes, Vince Carter went on to play longer in the NBA than anyone else in history. He suited up for another decade as a key role player off the bench. He still posted a double-digit scoring average well into his late 30s.
A two-decade career also included plenty of postseason experience. The eight-time NBA All-Star played in 88 playoff games. He averaged nearly 30 points per game during the 2006 playoffs with the Nets.
Unfortunately, despite playing 22 seasons in the NBA, Vince Carter never won an NBA title. With the league shifting its playoff format, the Atlanta Hawks will not resume their season. In all likelihood, we’ve seen the last of Vinsanity. But boy did he leave us with some incredible memories.