Atlanta Hawks player and NBA legend Vince Carter, who previously announced he would retire at the end of 2019-2020 season, likely saw his career come to an unceremonious end last night when the league abruptly suspended activities.
The 43-year-old hit a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the Hawks’ 136-131 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, just as the NBA placed the season on hiatus in the wake of Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert’s coronavirus diagnosis.
The league said officials “will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” and offered no timetable on when the season may resume, if at all.
It’s largely speculated the suspension could last for weeks or months depending on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, at which point the NBA could decide to end the 2019-2020 season outright, or forgo the remaining schedule to move directly into the playoffs.
In either case, the Hawks would not qualify for the playoffs, and their season — and Carter’s career — would be over.
“It’s just weird,” Carter told reporters after the game. “As we were being briefed on everything … I’m sitting there, like, ‘All right, this is it. Like that. It ended like that.’ Probably tonight, I’ll reflect, like, ‘Golly, this is weird, man.’ ”
“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,” he added, according to Yahoo Sports. “And that’s something I’ll always remember, at least I scored my last basket and there’ll be a weird but cool memory.”
As of Thursday afternoon March 12, there are now at least 1,297 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with 37 deaths.
The majority of U.S. cases are in Washington state, California and New York, and all three have declared a state of emergency to redirect funding.
“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 told reporters.
This year, Carter — who was selected by the Toronto Raptors in the 1998 NBA Draft — became the first player in history to play 22 seasons in the NBA.
“It’s cool, though,” he said of his career potentially ending on Wednesday. “Basketball has been good to me and I’ve enjoyed every moment, good and bad.”