Vince Carter: Should Style Points Get Him to the Hoops Hall of Fame?
The basic criteria for the Hall of Fame, for any Hall of Fame, will always be Fame. A spot on the list for “the best.” Vince Carter is not really one of the best basketball players in NBA history. He is, however, one of the best athletes in NBA history, and all respect to the pioneers of the dunk, the best dunking wing in NBA history. Grab your pitchforks.
Even acknowledging the place for innovation — the earliest dunkers have to be acknowledged, the same way the earliest behind the back dribblers and the earliest jump shooters do — the tired notion that the first must be the best by virtue of sheer chronology is just that: a tired notion. No one’s disputing the brilliance of Dr. J or the schoolyard flash of Elgin Baylor (not that more than a small portion of still-living NBA fans ever saw him play), but Vinsanity was the best. In a perfect world, a world that respected the notion of fame when dealing with a hall of the same title, that would be enough. But we don’t live there, and Vince Carter remains the Rodney Dangerfield of the early ’00s NBA superstars.
His HoF bonafides? They’re admittedly slim — Rookie of the Year, seven All Star Appearances, and a pair of All-NBA teams (third in 2000 and second in 2001, respectively), but to deny Vince Carter a place in the Hall of Fame would be to deny the fun factor of hoops — to give over to the soulless, evil Lombardi monster within all of us that says that winning is winning and everything else falls a distant second. That’s never true in any sport — although winning certainly trumps losing — and it’s especially false in a sport that has so much room for aesthetic excellence.