SLAMonline Top 50: Vince Carter, no. 36

by Myles Brown

Nestled securely in his lair, deep beneath section 201 of the Meadowlands, our hero found himself in a quandary. The legs that dazzled millions dangled over one arm of an Ektorp sofa-provided by the local IKEA-as a tense neck and shoulders rested on the full grain leather of the opposite end. Aiming the remote at a patchwork of plasma screens, he limply paused, gazed and rewound. Pause, gaze and rewind. His glassy eyes failed to blink or see where it all went wrong.

Technically, Vincent Lamar Carter ‘played’ 76 games for the Nets in 2007-08, but as is oft the question with our listless millionaire, how many days did he show up for ‘work’? New Jersey failed to make the playoffs for the first time in years and despite posting career highs in multiple categories (FT, RPG and APG) Carter had what may have been his worst season since going on strike in Toronto. Now for a slew of NBA players, having to step forward on a gimpy ankle to fill the void of leadership left by a franchise savior and Hall of Famer are the seeds of an understandable despondence. However, these circumstances planted nothing but doubt in the minds of fans as they watched the Sultan of Sulk go thorough the motions. “Can he carry the load or will he want out now too? How will this affect him?” they asked, blithely unaware of how he affected the entire League.

Years ago we all began to see that Vince Carter was holding back. What we didn’t know was how much. Having immediately established himself as the greatest dunker of all time, the hyperbole flew wildly with breathless claims from his supporters that Vince could do the same. Of course, no one actually believes that shit, it’s merely said for effect. But there was that one time when less sophisticated equipment across the globe was left smoldering after much pausing, gazing and rewinding of Carter’s Olympic Flight 915. Departing from outside the paint and arriving quickly at the rim, with only a brief layover on 7-2 Freddy Weis’ scalp, the entire world watched as the pilot came thisclose to divulging his secret. We all returned our seats and jaws back to their upright position in disbelief, but Kevin Garnett knew the truth when he saw it. “Vince? That motherf*cker can fly man. For real.” Of course no one believed him cause Kevin’s always sayin’ shit like that. But it was true. Vince Carter really could fly.

A rejuvenated Carter arrived in New Jersey along with the first sightings of a masked superhero streaking the New York City skyline. Tales of his exploits spread like groupies. Someone flew into the 37th floor of the W Hotel and rescued a sleeping David Harrison, whose lit joint started a four alarm blaze. Someone swooped down and saved Kwame Brown from the impending doom of NYC traffic as the hapless center attempted to walk and chew gum simultaneously. For six months, 911 received countless calls from a delirious Stephon Marbury exclaiming that “Superman is stealin’ the hoes from right outta my truck!” But it wasn’t until Stephen Jackson saw a barrage of bullets meant for him disappear into a blue and white blur outside of Tig Fat Bitties Gentleman’s Club that Marbury’s recycled moniker was replaced with another. Police reported that one of Jackson’s assailant’s swore he got a good look at the paladin’s profile through the tattered mask, but his bound cohorts dismissed the manic mumbling of “H…Ha…Half Man-H..H..Half Amazing…” with a shake of the head and a “Naw, that nigga had on Adidas, yo.”

You see, it was all a ruse.  The carefree fadeaways.  The shameless wincing.  The way he treated the lane like a biohazard.  Carter realized long ago that he could never unleash his full potential without subjecting himself to the whims of a fickle public.  Once his capabilities were realized, they’d only clamor for more.  “Michael Who?”  they’d say.  “Now do a 1080!”  “Why even pass?  Those other fools are just getting in the way!”  It would never end, and as much as he loved he game, he knew his powers were meant for more than entertainment.  Long ago, he sacrificed himself for the greater good, singlehandedly protecting the NBA while masquerading as the poster child for apathy.

But now, hopelessly strewn across the sofa, his catatonic stare gradually progresseed into an indignant glare as the flickering images stared back at him.  It was all a lie.  A big f*cking waste.  Unceasing ridicule sustained solely for the thankless task of saving those destined for more trouble.  They unknowingly taunted him from through their respective panels, but it was the scroll at center screen that truly stoked his ire.  It was then he realized that this was his last chance at recapturing the adulation he forfeited in the name of service.  All he ever wanted was his just due.  Some true recognition.  He glimpsed at a replay of Dirk Nowitzki’s fateful free throws in the upper right corner, then at an ecstatic Paul Pierce hoisting his very own O’Brien to the far left.  He took one last look at the list on center screen and his blood boiled.

A smoking plasma let loose bursts of electricity while the remote that speared it remained lodged in place, posting an edict only its owner could see.  Our hero stormed out of the room with a newfound determination, ranting to anyone who might be listening in the arenas empty hallways.

“Thirty-f*cking-six?!  Are they serious?  I’ll show you thirty-six, you bastards!”

And with that, Vincent Lamar Carter decided to give trying one last try.

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