I’ll never forget how much I adored Vince Carter, because he was the first athlete to show me how basketball can bring so much happiness in life

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Tricia Guevara | Photo from NBA.com

Do you remember the reason why you’re passionate about something?

For me, it was Vince Carter. The Toronto Raptor made me want to become a basketball player. While I didn’t end up becoming one (sad but maybe in my next life), Vinsanity is the reason why I am writing this story in the first place. He was the first ever basketball superstar who caught my eye in the early 2000s and is the reason why many ‘90s kids like me have followed the NBA since his prime year.

While we didn’t get to witness the peak of ‘90s basketball (AKA Michael Jordan’s basketball career), we had Carter. He was there not necessarily to fill the void left by Jordan’s exit (I highly doubt anyone could ever do that) but to bring excitement to the peak of the post-Jordan era. It’s not hard to point out Vinsanity’s most iconic moment: that memorable slam dunk performance he authored in 2000. 

It’s the same dunk that had more than 20,000 fans, players and legends blown away during the All Star Dunk contest, the contest, which Carter recovered. This unforgettable moment was immortalized in many posters and photographs, including the one in my room when I was a six-year-old kid. 

Carter may not be the most accomplished professional player to step on the hardwood, but his impact on the game will last a lifetime. Sometimes, it only takes one match to set up a big fire—and the five-time all star was that match for many players and fans like me around the world. I’ll never forget how much I adored Vince Carter, because he was the first ever athlete to show me how sports (specifically basketball) can bring so much happiness in life. 

Now, basketball is the biggest part of my life. It’s what makes me look forward to write, wake up early in the morning (as someone who’s not a morning person, this is a big deal), and the reason why I catch myself slam dunking on my miniature court every day. This is Vince Carter’s impact. He was that match that lit hundreds of people’s passions for slam dunks. 

The NBA’s “half-man half-amazing” is more than just about his slam dunk highlights or his ability to last for 22 seasons (which, by the way, makes him the only player in NBA history to play in four different decades). Vinsanity is the reason why many people like me have their jobs today. Or why this generation is extra passionate about the game. 

Carter’s career is an example of why an athlete doesn’t need a resume full of championships or accomplishments to inspire a generation. Sometimes, it’s about inspiring people to lace their shoes and form their own version of classic dunk or their go-to jumper. Maybe that’s what makes Vince Carter amazing after all.