ATLANTA – Many believed that opponents would marvel at the Boston Celtics throughout this season. Tonight, the opposite will be the case.
The Boston Celtics will be marveling at one of their opponents: Vince Carter.
Carter, who is less than two months shy of his 42nd birthday, notched his 25,000th career point Tuesday night – on a dunk – as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. The longtime superstar is in the midst of his 22nd NBA season and is still finding a way to contribute as a reserve during the twilight of his career.
“He’s going against what the norm usually is for NBA guys in terms of longevity and what he’s been able to accomplish,” Kyrie Irving said with a look of bewilderment at Friday morning’s shootaround. “And I think the humility that he’s shown, to be able to be a part of a situation like this where they have good young players, but they also need development and leadership, and he’s right there enjoying this season as if it were his first.”
Unaware of Irving’s comments, Al Horford also used the word ‘humility’ while marveling at Carter’s ability to mold himself into new roles throughout the arc of his career.
“Obviously 25,000 (points), that’s a great deal,” he said, “but more to me is just the amount of years that he’s been able to play in the league, and how he’s managed to figure out how to go from being a superstar to just being a starter or coming off the bench.
“I think it shows his humility. You have to have that and you have to be willing, and I think that a lot of times, you’re a certain player or you’re known for a certain thing, and you kind of hold yourself to that and anything less, you don’t want to accept or do. I believe Vince, that’s what’s made him so special, is his ability to understand that he can still have an impact on the game even if he’s not being talked about, even if he’s not the main guy.”
Carter is far from the main guy nowadays, but he is still making plays. He’s started eight of Atlanta’s 18 games this season and is averaging 7.4 points per game overall. The fact that he’s still making an impact while playing alongside and against players half his age is downright shocking to Horford.
“What baffles me is just how healthy he is and looks, and still dunking the ball and doing things like that,” said Horford, who, ironically, will miss tonight’s game with a sore left knee. “That’s what impresses me the most.”
It’s actually laughable to compare Carter’s age to some members of the Celtics. He is more than twice as old as 20-year-old Jayson Tatum. He is twice as old as Robert Williams, who is 21. And he’s nearly twice as old as Jaylen Brown and Guerschon Yabusele, who are each 22.
And, on the flip side, Carter is only three months younger than Boston’s head coach, Brad Stevens.
“I can’t jog 20 minutes a day without most of my body hurting,” Stevens said with a laugh. “So I would say that it’s pretty amazing what he’s doing.”
Meanwhile, after being asked if he could see himself playing into his early 40s, Brown replied with a smile, “Right now I can’t… Who knows if I’ll ever get that far.”
Not many in this league have, especially among those who began their long careers as high-flying superstars like Carter. He’s doing something that no player has ever done before. It’s no wonder why the Celtics are marveling at him.