Former Toronto Raptors legend Vince Carter won the NBA’s 2019-20 sportsmanship award, an honour determined by his fellow NBA players, the league announced Thursday.
The 43-year-old Carter, who played this final NBA season for the Atlanta Hawks, earned 143 of 266 first placed-votes, beating out Brooklyn’s Garrett Temple, Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams, Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes, Detroit’s Langston Galloway, and Memphis’ Tyus Jones, respectively.
Carter announced his retirement following the Hawks’ final game on March 11, the day the NBA shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He made the final shot of his career, a 3-pointer in a 136-131 overtime loss to the New York Knicks.
It is the first time Carter has won the award, adding to his resume that includes eight NBA All-Star selections, two All-NBA honours, the 1998-99 Rookie of the Year Award, and the 2015-16 Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award, which honors selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.
While Carter’s post-Raptors career has been filled with acts of sportsmanship and selflessness, his final days in Toronto were turbulent and full of conflict. In 2005, the Raptors unceremoniously traded their superstar to the then-New Jersey Nets for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round draft picks.
Following Carter’s retirement in June, he spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix and said he was at peace with how his NBA career ended and he harbored no ill will toward the Raptors organization.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Carter said of his healed relationship with the city he started in. “It’s really impossible to explain. But it’s refreshing, satisfying, and makes the walk out of the door satisfying and peaceful, when that door closes. Just because, Like I say, I played the game because I love it. And I want everyone to understand it, see it and appreciate it. And I prided myself on it since I walked into this game. Be a good guy, enjoy the game, and just play the game that I love, my way. And that’s all I ever wanted to do. And I think people are understanding that now at this age, more than ever, that I just love playing basketball. And I want to play basketball. And as a young guy I didn’t think about, the impact I would have on people.”
With his playing days behind him, Carter will reportedly join ESPN as an NBA analyst, according to the New York Post.