Apr 26, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter (25) celebrates with forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) after hitting the game winning shot during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs in game three of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks: Thank You, Vince Carter

The Dallas Mavericks knew there’d be some cons on the horizon while waiting for the Chandler Parsons clock to tick down.

Vince Carter is no longer a member of the Mavs.

And it stings. Especially to know that Dallas lost Carter to the division rival Memphis Grizzlies. That’s even worse.

But it stings for other reasons. It’s a shot to the gut knowing that for the past three seasons, “Vinsanity” may not have ran as wild in years past, but having a future Hall of Famer on the roster who proved to many that he still had it was a joy to watch.

It wasn’t the same Vince Carter anymore from Toronto or New Jersey. He looked near the end of his career in Phoenix and Orlando.

Maybe he didn’t have what it took to be a productive player anymore.

He was far from being the highest of leapers or the hottest of shooters. Those years had passed him by.

When Dallas was able to get Carter at a bargain of $3 million back in 2012, I remember reading comments when the signing was announced.

Some of them were like:

“He’s incredibly soft. Don’t expect him to make plays.”

“I guess Cuban doesn’t care what happens this season!”

“This would’ve been an awesome signing in 2004.”

Others you can read here. But you get the idea.

He wasn’t the same player anymore. No one expected him to be the superstar he was in Toronto.

He was brought to Dallas in 2012 as a guy the Mavs needed to fill the roster, basically. He was someone expected to be a cheap addition who would probably play for one more contract and call it quits.

The moment I knew that he was far from done?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rceGPDQL0T4]

That dunk. It was about as uncontested and easy a dunk Vince has ever had in his career.

But during a playoff game, with that crowd and that moment, I damn near fell out of my chair.

The old man still had hops. He could still make an impact in some capacity.

For the next two years, Vince evolved his game. He became a deadly 3-point shooter.

It was always a staple in his game, but he would become the new Jason Terry; called upon to make big shots when needed. He evolved his game so much, that he was considered all year long for the Sixth Man of the Year award this season and the case could be made that he should’ve won it.

There were glimpses of the old “Vinsanity”‘ along the way. But he became a deadly veteran player who could always break the hearts of many.

But there were none bigger, none better, than on April 26.

Allow me to say this for the final time before finally putting it away for good: The Mavs were not supposed to stand a chance against the San Antonio Spurs. Yet going into Game 3 against the Spurs in Dallas, the Mavs had a chance to take a 2-1 lead over the Spurs.

Take your pick on who you thought would get the ball, down two points with 1.7 seconds to play.

But it was Vince.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWnyg-Q3VOg]

Don’t lie: You still get a kick of watching that over and over. One of the greatest moments in Dallas Mavericks history, hit by one of the most memorable players in NBA history.

To top it off, he earned his redemption in the process. On May 20, 2001, in pretty much the exact same spot, Carter missed a potential game-winning shot in Game 7 of the Toronto Raptors’ Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup with Allen Iverson‘s Philadelphia 76ers.

To this day, that’s the furthest Carter has ever gone in the playoffs.

So as Vince takes his new deal with the Grizzlies, there’s a good chance he won’t get a ring there either. And when he retires, he’ll sadly be in that cringe-worthy category of the greatest players never to win a championship.

And while that may be the case, he’ll forever be remembered in Dallas as the guy who wasn’t soft, showed that he still had IT and didn’t make Mark Cuban regret once for signing him.

Thanks for three great years, Vince.

Tags: Dallas Mavericks NBA Free Agency Vince Carter

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