Vince Carter had accepted this would be his final NBA season – and now he has resigned himself to the fact it might already be over.
The 43-year-old eight-time All-Star became the first player in league history to play in 22 NBA seasons when he began his second campaign with the Atlanta Hawks.
Carter, who was the fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, has also played with the Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings.
He nailed a three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the Hawks’ 136-131 defeat to the New York Knicks on Wednesday evening.
And that might be his last act as a player in the NBA, with the coronavirus threat leading the league to suspend all matches indefinitely.
It remains to be seen whether the season is formally called to an early end, but as the pandemic causes life to come to a standstill in many parts of the world, Carter is comfortable with the notion his playing career might be done.
Carter said: “If it ended today and you know this day, this end of the season, these last 16 games, will be talked about for a very long time. And that’s something I’ll always remember, at least I scored my last basket and there’ll be a weird but cool memory.
“It’s a weird way to say I’m calling a career – you don’t have any more games left. I still technically have eligibility. I have 15 games left – but if not, I’m [at] one with it.”
Speaking in a news conference, Carter recalled a chat with the late Kobe Bryant that allowed him to come to terms with the idea this would be his final year playing, saying it gave him “the confidence and comfort” to speak openly about walking away.
“It’s cool, though. Basketball has been good to me and I’ve enjoyed every moment, good and bad,” Carter said.
The World Health Organization said there have been 129,822 coronavirus cases globally, and 4,751 deaths.
“When you throw the word ‘death’ around, I think that kind of shocks everybody and puts us in a frenzy and puts everyone on guard. You can’t get away from that,” Carter said.
“You feel for everyone who has a lot more to worry about than us as young athletes. We’re just doing the right thing.
“Yes it feels weird, but I’m okay with it because I understand what is the bigger picture.”