There is perhaps no better reminder of Vince Carter’s immortality than watching him step on the floor and torch his former franchise….one that he left nine-and-a-half seasons ago.
Against the Brooklyn Nets Monday night, Carter looked more like his 30 year-old self than his 40 year-old self, dropping 14 points on 4-for-5 from the three-point line as the Memphis Grizzlies carved out the 112-103 win.
Despite his advanced years, Carter knows that he has to put in extra work off the court to keep himself in the game as a productive member of a playoff team.
“I take care of my body and I make sure I’m prepared to play and I can play, Carter said post-game.
“So I just have to put a lot of work in to be able to do so. You know, some days are tougher than others and some days are easier.
“Some mornings I’ll wake up and be like ‘eh 40 is nothing’ and some mornings I’ll wake up and be like ‘Oh this 40 thing might be a bad idea,’ so it just comes with it so just make sure that I’m prepared and train and take care of my body as best I can and go from there.”
Mike Conley poured on 32 points and Marc Gasol added 19, but the loudest cheers were saved for Carter, who quietly went about his business, knocking down open looks and providing the necessary spacing for his two star teammates to go to work.
That’s been the philosophy for Carter as he continues to evolve his game fill in the gaps, whether it’s with his shooting, playmaking or energy off the bench.
Adapt or die.
Carter knows better than most that his flexibility and willingness to do the dirty work is what’s kept him around as a productive player in season #21.
“Ive accepted my role and my mentality is to take advantage of it and dominate that role plain and simple.
“Just like the opportunities I had as a young player where the keys were given to me to be as good I could possibly be, so I wanted to dominate that role at that time, so the mentality hasn’t changed, just minutes, opportunities and touches have changed. But the mentality hasn’t changed and I think thats whats really kept me around for so long, because of that.
“The first and foremost thing you have to be willing to accept your new role and a lot of guys aren’t willing to do that. I mean we get caught in the role that used to be or that you used to have and some guys aren’t willing to change and when you’re stuck in that its kind of hard to transition into a new role, but I was willing to do so.
“I still love to play, I still want to play, still want to compete. Thats what its all about.”
The 34-23 Grizzlies sit sixth in the Western Conference, despite injuries to key players in Conley and Chandler Parsons throughout the season.
Carter’s fountain of youth has not only buoyed them through the hard times, but at full strength has added a compliment of experience to an already gritty team.
If Carter can do it, then the Grizzlies younger players can make no excuses out there.
Who knows how long he will keep it up, but for right now, he’s still half man, half amazing, but now it’s for different reasons.