Vince Carter turns 41 in January, but even though the Sacramento Kings are his seventh team and he’s in the midst of his 20th NBA season, the former Nets star assured that he doesn’t expect Wednesday night’s appearance at Barclays Center was his last.
“I’m going to play another year, for sure,” Carter said in a pre-game interview. “I have to. I feel good . . . I just go until the body says don’t, or until I mentally don’t want to prepare to play the right way, if that makes sense.”
At the mention of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady claiming he might play until he’s 45, Carter laughed and said, “No. I know that for a fact, I don’t think I can make it to 45. [But] I’ll be 41 soon, so it’s not that far-fetched, I guess. But no, I definitely want to play one more and then we’ll see from there.”
There was a time when Carter, the superstar, was known variously as “Vinsanity” for his amazing dunking exhibitions and was called “Half Man, Half Amazing.” Those days are long gone. He came in averaging 2.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.0 assist. But it’s his ability to adjust mentally to a different role that he credits even above his superb conditioning and preparation for his longevity.
“Before, you could play the game,” Carter said. “Now, it’s all about playing the angles . . . It’s not the easiest thing to go from big minutes and having the ball to a different role. It takes some time, but how can you still be effective?
“That’s been my goal, and that’s how I think I’ve been able to survive more so than [anything] is my willingness to do whatever it takes to stay on a team or to be effective on a team . . . It’s not about scoring now. It’s about being effective and getting us wins.”
These days, Carter’s biggest role is as a mentor to young teammates. He spent considerable time working with 6-10 rookie forward Harry Giles before the Nets game, suffering a split lip for his trouble.
“I love working with young guys who really want to work on their game,” Carter said.
The former Nets star was looking forward to his usual warm welcome from Nets fans, but last Saturday, he enjoyed a rapprochement with Raptors fans who long booed him for forcing the 2004 trade that sent him to the Nets, where he remained through the 2008-09 season.
“It was just a great feeling, plain and simple,” Carter said of the ovation. “It was like, ‘Yeah, it feels right.’”