With his 1,542-game career spanning over 22 seasons and four decades, Vince Carter shared the floor with some of the greatest players to ever lace them up.
Naturally, as one of the most electrifying players this game has ever seen, Carter has had some unforgettable matchups with plenty of all-time greats, with the storyline sometimes being even more impressive.
From draft-class peers like Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce to the stars of today, Vince has just about seen - and done - it all.
1. Paul Pierce
First meeting: Feb. 5, 1999
Last meeting: April 12, 2016
As members of the same McDonald's All-American class as well as the 1998 NBA Draft class, Carter and Pierce will forever be linked to one another. The two even played their first career games against one another on Feb. 5, 1999.
Carter, of course, outlasted Pierce, as well as the rest of their draft class, but the two squared off 51 times over 18 seasons and an additional six times in the postseason, with regular-season averages that are eerily close to one another's. Aside from their debuts, one of the more memorable meetings came on Apr. 9, 2007, when Carter got the best of Pierce by sinking seven triples en route to a 45 point night and a win for the Nets.
All-time Vince vs. Pierce
2. Tim Duncan
First meeting: March 26, 1999
Last meeting: March 25, 2016
After squaring off several times in college, the two ACC legends met 45 times in the regular season and an additional 11 in the postseason.
While Duncan's Spurs typically held off Carter's teams, Vince did lead the Raptors to a big win over the Spurs in his second season with an impressive 39-point performance. That same game saw The Big Fundamental hold his own with 27 points and 13 rebounds, but it ultimately wasn't enough.
All-time Vince vs. Duncan
3. Ray Allen
First meeting: Feb. 9, 1999
Last meeting: Feb. 18, 2014
There was a bit of a rivalry between Allen and Carter early on in their careers, as legend says that Allen got the nod to play on Team USA in the 2000 Olympic Games over Carter.
Carter's response? 47 points, five boards and four assists in a win over Allen and the Bucks on Jan. 14, 2000. Carter would ultimately earn a selection on that Olympic team and the two would win a Gold Medal together in Sydney.
Allen's teams essentially dominated Carter's throughout their respective careers, but Carter for sure has the best performance in the series.
All-time Vince vs. Allen
4. Dwyane Wade
First meeting: Nov. 29, 2003
Last meeting: March 4, 2019
Two of the most explosive players this game has ever seen, D-Wade and Carter met a grand total of 45 times, with Wade's Heat teams dominating Carter and the Nets in the postseason.
The numbers are fun to look at and analyze, but when I think of Carter and the Nets vs. Wade and the Heat, I'm reminded that D-Wade was on the floor for one of the best - if not the best - dunks in Carter's career, the tomahawk over Alonzo Mourning.
"That's top 10 right there… in the whole history of the NBA," Wade told reporters of the dunk postgame. That's saying something.
Vince Carter says Alonzo Mourning didn't talk to him for "six or seven years" after he posterized him, per @Rachel__Nichols https://t.co/SGazEUdB3a pic.twitter.com/og6vb1ynVX- Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 7, 2018
All-time Vince vs. Wade
5. LeBron James
First meeting: Dec. 9, 2003
Last meeting: Dec. 15, 2019
On Dec. 20, 2006, the Cleveland Cavaliers travelled to take on the New Jersey Nets.
LeBron James finished with an impressive 37 points, eight assists and two steals. Vince Carter? Well, he finished with 38 points, six rebounds and five assists AND the win. LeBron has more wins in the overall series, but let's not forget that there was a time that these two performed at a similar level.
Following their final meeting in Dec. 2019, the two expressed their mutual appreciation and respect for one another.
All-time Vince vs. LeBron
6. Kawhi Leonard
First meeting: Jan. 5, 2012
Last meeting: Jan. 8, 2019
By the time Leonard and Carter met for the first time, Vince was weeks away from his 35th birthday, as evidenced by the slight disparity in the numbers from their 20 regular-season meetings. Vince did turn back the clock, however, when he finished with 28 points in a postseason loss to Leonard and the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. He was 37 at that time.
There's a good chance that at some point down the line, both Leonard's No. 2 and Carter's No. 15 will hang alongside one another in the Scotiabank Arena rafters. As two of the most influential players in Raptors history, they will forever be linked.
All-time Vince vs. Kawhi
7. Kevin Garnett
First meeting: Feb. 26, 1999
Last meeting: Jan. 23, 2016
Garnett was also a member of the 1995 McDonald's All-American class along with Pierce and Carter, who opted to play three seasons of college basketball while Garnett went straight to the league.
Somehow, the 30 meetings between the two seem low, considering the fact that they are among a shortlist of players to have played in over 20 seasons, but playing in different conferences for several years and missing time due to injuries had a hand in the final figure.
KG is set to join the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2020 and it won't be long before Carter joins him in Springfield.
All-time Vince vs. Garnett
8. Allen Iverson
First meeting: April 14, 1999
Last meeting: April 1, 2009
This is, quite possibly, the best duel of all in Carter's career.
While the two split the 28 regular-season games in which they met, we'll all remember their epic seven-game battle when the Raptors and 76ers met in the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
If you don't recall, there were a few notable battles:
- Game 1: Carter scores 35, Iverson scores 36, Raptors win
- Game 2: Carter scores 28, Iverson scores 54, 76ers win
- Game 3: Carter scores 50, Iverson scores 23, Raptors win
- Game 5: Carter scores 16, Iverson scores 50, 76ers win
- Game 6: Carter scores 39, Iverson scores 20, Raptors win
Of course, the series ended with Carter's potential game-winner in Game 7 falling short, as the league's MVP in Allen Iverson and the Sixers would eventually advance to the NBA Finals.
All-time Vince vs. Iverson
9. Dirk Nowitzki
First meeting: Dec. 30, 1999
Last meeting: March 27, 2018
Two more members of the 98 NBA Draft class, Carter and Nowitzki both enjoyed lengthy careers, with Nowitzki's 21 seasons falling just one shy of Vince's league-record 22.
In addition to meeting 35 times, the two spent three seasons as teammates in Dallas. There, Vince continued his clutch ways, knocking down a buzzer-beater in a postseason win over the Spurs. Who was the first Maverick to run over and celebrate with Vince? You guessed it.
While they competed against one another a number of times, their best moment likely came when they were on the same side.
All-time Vince vs. Dirk
10. James Harden
First meeting: Nov. 18, 2009
Last meeting: Jan. 8, 2020
"Vince was one of the pioneers as far as his athleticism and the way he changed the game," that was what Harden had to say this past season after scoring 60 points in three quarters against the Atlanta Hawks.
James Harden takes some during his postgame interview with @cayleighgriffin to chat with Vince Carter.- AT&T SportsNet SW (@ATTSportsNetSW) December 1, 2019
"Vince (@mrvincecarter15) was one of the pioneers as far as his athleticism and the way he changed the game"#Rockets beat the Hawks 158-111 behind 60 points from @JHarden13 pic.twitter.com/98qgCyXAIa
After one of the biggest achievements in his career, Harden paused to pay homage to Carter and share a moment of appreciation for his contributions to the game. While the numbers are a bit lopsided, especially on that night, those are the types of moments that can't be measured.
All-time Vince vs. Harden
11. Shaquille O'Neal
First meeting: Nov. 21, 1999
Last meeting: Jan. 28, 2011
Did you know that Carter tried to recruit Shaquille O'Neal to Toronto?
When you look at the head-to-head meetings, it makes sense that these two would have wanted to play together. In his first-ever game against the Lakers, Carter scored 34 points to lead Toronto to a win at the Staples Center.
Fast forward six years and Carter is lighting the Heat up for a career-high 51 points (on 13-for-25 shooting) and a Nets win. No wonder his scoring numbers are so high in this series.
All-time Vince vs. Shaq
12. Russell Westbrook
First meeting: Jan. 12, 2009
Last meeting: Nov. 30, 2019
When you think of these two, dunking is probably a thread that would come to mind to connect them.
When you look at their all-time head-to-head, it's impossible to ignore that Carter tied his career-high of six steals in the first-ever meeting between him and Westbrook. The Nets got the win, too.
All-time Vince vs. Westbrook
13. Kobe Bryant
First meeting: Dec. 19, 1999
Last meeting: Mar. 22, 2016
At the turn of the century, Vince and Kobe were two of the premier wings in the NBA.
While the two were entrenched in some epic battles, perhaps none was more epic than the one on Dec. 17, 2000, when Vince scored 31 points, only to be outdone by Kobe, who finished with 40 and the win.
Bryant's tragic passing called for Carter to reminisce on their friendship, which spanned back to their high school days. The pair's familiarity with one another added another dynamic to their competitiveness against one another.
All-time Vince vs. Kobe
14. Kevin Durant
First meeting: Nov. 23, 2007
Last meeting: Dec. 3, 2018
In 2013, Kevin Durant admitted to being a Raptors fan growing up, thanks largely in part to Carter: "His enthusiasm he showed, just his athleticism, and how he brought Toronto from being one of the newer teams in the league to almost going to the finals. He changed the culture there in Toronto."
As a competitor, Durant showed one of his childhood idols the utmost respect by going for a then-career-high 52 points while shooting just 13-for-31 from the field but an impressive 21-for-21 from the line.
In that same game, a 35-year-old Carter went for 29 points while shooting 10-for-17 from the field and 4-for-8 from deep. A week later, he turned 36. Not too shabby.
All-time Vince vs. Durant
15. Chris Paul
First meeting: Feb. 6, 2006
Last meeting: Jan. 24, 2020
46 in a loss? That's exactly what happened when the Nets took on Paul and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets on Feb. 21, 2007. Carter finished the game shooting 15-for-25 from the field but a young CP3 got the job done with 19 points and 11 assists.
Years later, Carter would turn back the clock to explode for 48 points in a Magic win over Paul's Hornets, only Paul was sidelined with a knee injury. It's still gotta count for something, though.
All-time Vince vs. Paul
16. Stephen Curry
First meeting: Dec. 5, 2009
Last meeting: Dec. 3, 2018
In order to play against the son of one of your former teammates, you have to have a long career. In order to face one of your former teammate's sons a total of 29 times (regular and postseason), you pretty much have to play forever.
That's essentially what Carter did.
When Dell Curry was a member of the Raptors, Vince would play one-on-one with his sons, Stephen and Seth. And while Steph has emerged as a perennial MVP candidate during his time in the league, Carter still found time to give lessons early on, scoring an efficient 27 points (on 7-for-13 shooting) in his first-ever meeting with Steph and the Warriors.
The two can now take their competitiveness to the golf course.
All-time Vince vs. Curry
17. Tracy McGrady
First meeting: Jan. 23, 2001
Last meeting: Apr. 26, 2012
You can't forget the cousins.
Similar to his career series with Paul Pierce, the numbers in the duel between Carter and McGrady are eerily similar. Still, just 25 meetings over the years seem very low.
After spending two seasons as teammates in Toronto, McGrady moved on to become the Orlando Magic's No. 1 option and perennial All-Star. The two duelled over the years, seemingly taking turns getting the best of one another, with T-Mac having the best individual performance of the series, a near triple-double of 36 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in a Magic loss to the Raptors.
While we'll always wonder what would have happened had they remained in Toronto together, it was pretty fun to watch them compete against one another.
All-time Vince vs. McGrady
18. Carmelo Anthony
First meeting: Nov. 9, 2003
Last meeting: Feb. 29, 2020
Melo is one of the few players mentioned here whose teams were outdone by Carter's during their career head-to-head.
Carter had some big games in the series, too.
Of the 24 meetings, Carter scored 30 or more points five times, including a 40-point, seven-rebound, six-assist performance in a Nets win over the Nuggets on Jan. 27, 2007. Like most series, Carter's recent years bring down his scoring average but don't let that trick you into thinking he and Carmelo weren't going toe-to-toe as scorers in the past.
All-time Vince vs. Carmelo
19. Steve Nash
First meeting: Feb. 20, 2000
Last meeting: Apr. 4, 2014
Dec. 7, 2006.
Nash and the Suns travelled to New Jersey to take on Carter, Jason Kidd and the Nets. What ensued was an instant classic, a 161-157 double-overtime thriller that saw four players score over 30 points. Among them was Nash, who finished with 42 points, 13 assists and six rebounds, and Carter, who finished with 31 points, nine assists and four rebounds before fouling out.
The two would go on to spend time as teammates as Phoenix, but that thriller made for some unforgettable stat lines.
All-time Vince vs. Nash
20. Michael Jordan
First meeting: Dec. 16, 2001
Last meeting: Mar. 4, 2003
At 6-6, from North Carolina…Michael Jordan...and Vince Carter.
Air Jordan. Air Canada.
Two of the greatest Tar Heels to take the floor in the NBA, the parallels between Carter and Jordan were hard to ignore early on in Carter's career. He had come along right when Jordan retired and filled in as the league's new highflying sensation that could fill it up on any given night.
When Jordan returned from retirement as a member of the Washington Wizards, he and Carter met just four times, but Jordan wasn't Jordan and Carter got the best of his fellow UNC alum predecessor. Carter did, however, allow for Jordan to start in his final All-Star Game, giving up his spot in 2003.
All-time Vince vs. MJ
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