Carter say­ing good­bye?

The Chatham Daily News - - SPORTS - BRIAN MA­HONEY

NEW YORK — Vince Carter looked up at the high­lights, en­joy­ing the view of him­self back in the days when he was among the NBA’s high­est fly­ers.

He’s about to turn 42, now in his 21st sea­son, and he doesn’t jump quite like the guy be­ing shown Wed­nes­day night on the Bar­clays Cen­ter over­head screens.

The Nets hon­oured Carter, who is the old­est ac­tive player, with a trib­ute video dur­ing their game against At­lanta, a way to say thank you for his 41/2 sea­sons with the fran­chise.

“It was great. Any time you can see old video of when you were young and spry and springy and all of that good stuff, I mean, it’s al­ways great to see,” Carter said.

Good times, yes.

But was it good­bye?

Carter hasn’t said if he plans to re­tire fol­low­ing the sea­son. He would make NBA his­tory if he re­turns, as no­body has played 22 sea­sons in the league.

So was the video pre­ma­ture? “I’m OK with it. Ei­ther way it’s cool,” he said with a smile. “I’m very thank­ful for it, that they even con­sid­ered it.

“When it was men­tioned to me I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kid­ding me.’ ”

The video was played in the first half, shortly after Carter had come off the Hawks’ bench for the first time. He re­ceived ova­tions from the crowd both times, and he ac­knowl­edged the fans after the video played.

He never played in Brook­lyn but was one of their best when the Nets played in New Jersey, rank­ing third on the fran­chise scor­ing list while play­ing in the back­court along­side Ja­son Kidd.

“Ob­vi­ously it wasn’t in this build­ing, but nev­er­the­less the feel­ing is still the same,” Carter said. “My five years here was fun, a lot of fun. J Kidd made it ob­vi­ously easy to play the game up and down and cre­ate a lot of high­lights and mem­o­ries, so it was awe­some to see.”

The Hawks’ road trip has been right down Carter’s mem­ory lane. They played Tues­day in Toronto, where he be­gan his ca­reer and has re­paired his re­la­tion­ship with fans that was dam­aged when he pushed for the trade that landed him in New Jersey.

“It’s a great trip. Stress­ful some­times, a lot of peo­ple to see, but the ap­pre­ci­a­tion I’m very thank­ful for and I’ll never for­get it,” Carter said. “And like I said, the video, yes it could be pre­ma­ture, or not. It’s still, they’re think­ing about me and I’m very thank­ful for that.”

He’s still pro­duc­tive, start­ing eight games and av­er­ag­ing 7.2 points, with a 21-point per­for­mance last month. If he comes back, he breaks a tie with Kevin Gar­nett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis for the most NBA sea­sons.

Carter was in­formed dur­ing his postgame in­ter­view that he was over­heard as he was leav­ing the arena Tues­day in Toronto telling some­one that he would see him next year.

“Re­ally?” Carter said with a laugh. “Well, I’ll see you guys next year.”

VERON­ICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN

At­lanta’s Vince Carter salutes the fans in Toronto on Tues­day.

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