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Friday , May , 28 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

A tale of two athletes: Steve Nash and Vince Carter

Former Canadian Olympic teammate Todd MacCulloch was saying the other day that he hoped Nash, a two-time NBA most valuable player, got a ring, “just so no one can say anything bad about his career.”

He needn't worry.

But Vince Carter? You'd like to say he should worry, but it's hard to make the case he does.

Evan as the Orlando Magic have rallied in their series with the Boston Celtics – winning twice in a row to trail 3-2 before Friday's game – Carter's reputation as one of the sport's great underachievers won't require revision. Impossibly, at least in the eyes of Toronto Raptors fans, he's made Magic followers lament the departure of Hedo Turkoglu, as Carter has turned into a $16-million (U.S.) spectator when the stakes are highest.

Link to Michael Grange's article on Globe and Mail

HoopsVibe's Call:  Nash and Carter's careers have been moving in different directions for years because of athleticism. Not just because of effort.

Nash never had Carter's raw physical gifts, so he developed his all-world skill-set and cared for his health. Carter, however, is still living exclusively off his athleticism, which, at 32, is starting to betray him.

For instance, Nash often dodges in-and-out of pick-and-rolls and drops amazing bounce passes, displaying the talent that won the 2010 Skills Contest, while Carter settles for fade-aways and rarely attacks the hoop like the player who won the Slam Dunk Contest.

Also, Nash is an amazing athlete. Sure, he isn't a leaper or speedster, but Hall of Fame NBA writer Jack McCallum wrote in Seven Seconds or Less that Nash's hand-to-eye coordination and reflexes was in the top percentile of players.

Such rare skills allow Nash to hold his own in pick-up soccer matches against American and European pros and helped him excel at baseball, ice hockey, lacrosse, and rugby as a teenager.

Nash's athletic gifts have not depreciated as quickly as Carter's, which explains both their performances in the 2010 playoff.

Why is Nash relevant and Carter irrelevant? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.