Vince Carter Is Ready to Fit the Role of Leading By Example

Atlanta Hawks

Author: Kevin L. Chouinard (@KLChouinard)

ATLANTA -- Vince Carter plans to use his experience to lead the Atlanta Hawks by example. 

As he enters his 21st season, Carter has scored 24,868 NBA points – a total that surpasses the combined career output of the other 14 players on the Hawks' young roster. 

To wit, the Toronto Raptors selected Carter with the 5th overall pick of the 1998 NBA Draft. Later that summer, Hawks Kevin Huerter and Trae Young (the 5th pick of 2018 Draft) were born. 

Has it ever gotten awkward for Carter to join up with teammates who are young enough to be his kids?

"For the last couple of years, it has been a little weird," the 41-year-old quipped. "On my previous team, there were a couple of guys who were like two months old when I was drafted. I was like, 'Man, I could be your dad.' I would never say that (out loud), but I think they get it."

At times, the age gap has pronounced itself off the court, too.

"They're like, 'Do you want to come through and play Fortnite?'", Carter laughed. "And I'm like, 'What?'"

Despite whatever natural discrepancy has existed in their age-appropriate activities, Carter has shown a willingness to share his wisdom with less experienced teammates 

"We'll figure it out," Carter said. "I'm speaking off of last year. With a lot of the young guys there, they would come in my room, or we would go in the lobby and talk. I'll be like, 'Let's put the game down and let's talk our profession, our business.' And we would have a lot of conversations, and it was mostly started by the young guys." 

When Carter enters a regular-season game for the Hawks this season, he will join Kevin Willis, Kevin Garnett and Robert Parish as the only NBA players to have played 21 seasons. Dirk Nowitzki will also join the group with an appearance in a game this season. Of that group of five players, four are big men. In essence, Carter is making history as the first perimeter player to play as long as he has. 

"It's great to have a job, plain and simple, at this age," Carter said. 

In 58 games with the Sacramento Kings last season, Carter averaged 5.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 17.7 minutes per game. He shot 40.3 percent from the field and made 57 threes. For a fourth consecutive season, Carter accumulated more steals than turnovers, an efficient feat for any player, but especially one of his age

Carter wants to share his knowledge and floor vision, and he noted that he wants to be an extension of the coaching staff.

"Being on the court, being able to lead by example, is something that I enjoy doing," he said, before later adding, "I want to get to a point where a guy is on the court and I'm like, 'What did you see there?' How can I accomplish this goal in that moment?"

Carter stated that the goal for the season is progress. He said that he wants to savor the experience of taking a team and making it better. 

"Everything is moving forward," he said. "For diehard fans, they need to understand the big picture. You're trying to get better. You're trying to get to the mountaintop where the team used to be. You have to take steps. Sometimes we want to skip to get to the end of the story but won't take the time to get to the meat and potatoes of it. And this is it. This is that part, developing these guys to get to the promised land at some point."

While Carter acknowledged that he is near the end of his career, he would not commit to saying whether or not this season would be his final one. He said that the biggest challenge is the tremendous level of commitment that it takes to stay conditioned in the offseason.

"Every year, I gauge it off how I feel at the end of the year," he said before cracking a wide grin. "The problem is that I feel good at the end of every year."