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 nailed a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in the Hawks' 136-131 loss to the Knicks on Wednesday evening. That might be his last act as a player in the NBA with the coronavirus threat leading the league to suspend all games indefinitely.
It remains to be seen whether the 2019-20 NBA season will be canceled, 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.
"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," Carter said. "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 it a career, it really is. You're used to, you don't have any more games left. Instead, I technically have what I will consider eligibility. I have 15 games left, technically — but if not, I'm [at] one with it."
— Taz Khan (@The_ExtraPoints) March 12, 2020
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."
Such a weird night but I am truly thankful for each and every person during this 22yr journey.
If this is really it, I thank everyone for your love and support for all these years.
B E Z✌
— Vince Carter (@mrvincecarter15) March 12, 2020
The 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 Hawks.
Carter, who was the fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, has also played with the Raptors, Nets, Magic, Suns, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Kings.