Atlanta Hawks veteran Vince Carter had some words of encouragement for students robbed of a conventional graduation because of the coronavirus pandemic.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 17, 2020
Interestingly, in his special message for graduating students, Carter spoke about his conundrum in 2001 when he was set to receive his diploma from the University of North Carolina and face the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on the same day (via Andrew Joe Potter of The Score):
“I was once in your position, excited about the opportunity to graduate and receive my diploma – but I was also playing in the biggest basketball game of my professional career as well,” the Hawks swingman said. “And by the way: They were both on the same day.”
This was back when Vince Carter was at the apex of superstardom as a member of the Toronto Raptors.
Carter decided to attend his ceremony at Chapel Hill in the morning before playing later that night. The Raptors would end up losing to the Sixers, with Carter missing a potential series-winning jumper at the buzzer.
The man formerly known as “Air Canada” was under siege from local and national media in the aftermath of the game. He shot just 6-of-18 from the field, though he played all 48 minutes
However, the Hawks vet never shied away from his choice and he asserted he would not change a thing about his decision (via Potter):
“It was a taxing day for me, but I was able to accomplish both goals,” Carter said. “And I would do it again if I had to.”
The Class of 2020 has been beset with rather sub-optimal circumstances. However, Carter’s words might serve as a reminder for these students to be unapologetic in following their aspirations as they prepare to embark on future journeys.