With just about two weeks left before the NBA All Star Game the highlights of Vince Carter dominating the 2000 Slam Dunk contest are beginning to circulate in ever increasing frequency. Carter literally introduced the world to dunks most people had never seen before and did it with a fire and passion that has never been matched by any subsequent dunk contest contestant.
In what may have been the most artistic and athletic display of dunking ever, Carter raised the bar to a level that proceeding dunkers and dunk contests have never been able to replicate or recover from. If you watched another dunk contest after 2000, you were wasting your time. Vince Carter killed the Dunk Contest. But has the NBA killed Vince Carter? Is Vince Carter done?
If you’ve watched Vince Carter at all this year, especially since his trade to the Suns, he sure looks like it. But it’s in a sort of Randy Moss way; if he’s not hurt he’s at least disinterested. But as we found out toward the end of the NFL season Moss was actually done. Is VC acting like he doesn’t care to throw us off, and he really is in fact done ?
With 40 games played this season, Carter is on pace for a career low in ppg (15.5), assists (2.5), and minutes (30.8). But the most telling statistic is his free throw attempts per game, 2.6 which is less than half of his per season average for his career. This confirms what is so easy to see when watching Carter this year; he rarely attacks the basket. Instead, he consigns himself to hovering around the three point arc, waiting to shoot a set shot three pointer off of penetration. Sure he’s coming off of his best scoring game of the season, 33 points on Friday night, but he had to attempt a season high 12 three point attempts (making six) to get there and the bulk of that scoring came in the first half. The way he stood around the three point arc waiting for a kick out is something only Dell Curry could appreciate.
His body language tells you one of two things; he’s either hurt or stopped caring. And since he’s gotten a fresh start in a new city in the scorer friendly Phoenix offense, you’d have to figure he’d be excited and ready to play. The week he arrived in Phoenix Carter aggravated another knee injury that was initially suffered in November when he was playing for the Magic. Officially classified by the Suns training staff as “inflammation in his left quad tendon”, the injury seems to be lingering.
But what really scares Phoenix fans is something perhaps Orlando knew when they traded him; that he was just done. It wasn’t the latest knee injury specifically, but the wear and tear of being one of the most athletic players in the NBA for 13 years.
So which is it Hoopsvibe fans? Is VC done for good?? Or is it just a rough stretch?
[image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison]