Vince probably missed this one, but still - USA TODAY Sports
Cinema buffs will recognize the title as an allusion to "Dr. Strangelove, or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the bobm." In this case, Vince Carter is the bomb.
I have an interesting emotional relationship with Vince Carter as Maverick. At the time he was picked up, MMB readers will remember, I argued that far from seeing Vince as a small pick up overshadowed by the Lamar Odom trade, it was very likely that Vince would be as good an offensive pickup as Odom, inasmuch as Lamar's career year, at 31, was the first year in either of their careers that Lamar had outscored Vince. And that, though you can still hear announcers say things like "Vince Carter has really learned to shoot the three, in his later years," the fact is, Vince's first year as a 40+ percent three-point shooter was...1999. He has a career average of 37.6
Of course, even I, with my intellect downloaded to the MMB secret computer system couldn't have figured out that I'd mostly be right, or that, rather, I'd be wrong, because the Lamar Odom pickup was roughly as good as picking up a fork and shoving it into your eyeballs.
The problem is that nobody on the team takes as many bad shots as Vince. Crowder's shot choices are sometimes as bad, but he takes less of them. Any time Vince slowly drives to the hole, these days, for a reverse layup executed at approximately the speed of a particularly frightened maple syrup, it's not going in. Any time Vince backs some down for his "think about it" turnaround in the post, it's probably not going in.
Last night's game winner, a three with six seconds left, was a bad shot. The Mavericks were down one, and should (obviously) have tried to get a higher percentage shot. They could also have taken the lead at the foul line, so a drive would seem to have been order. There was also 14 seconds left when the Mavs got the ball, so obviously they could have held for the last shot.
Obviously, given how the Mavs have been finishing games this season, a shot that was basically a clean look, that came from a Maverick, and one of the more offensively competent Mavericks, can't be called a terrible shot. But it was a bad shot.
It went in, though. And no, that's not justification, and no, Vince's game is not smart enough for, say, the Mavericks championship team. But is it smart enough for a 25-29 Mavs team, needing every game, basically, to even imagine making the playoffs?
Vince is a fierce competitor. Vince never gives up. Vince has turned himself into a pretty tough defender, something that wasn't much said about him in the 00s. And he's shot 48% from three so far in February, 45% in January.
Mavs fans will remember Vince's first few games with the team. Three losses, with VC averaging less than ten. Having signed on to the championship-winning Mavs, and found himself on a team that needed all the luck in the world to make it to the postseason, who could have blamed him for doing what his reputation suggested he'd always done, showboated instead of competed, loafed instead of fought.
The Mavericks' Vince Carter is the toughest competitor out there, every night, and I hope it's changed as many minds r outside of Dallas as it has inside.
It's funny to think, Vince's first big moment as a Maverick was a nearly identical one to last night's-- hitting an apparently game-winning three, with too much time left on the shot clock, down two against the OKC Thunder, in the third game of last season. Kevin Durant hit a 28-foot three to win it. It would have been the Mavs first win of the season. As things transpired, at the end of the season, the Mavericks went down by the barest of margins to the Thunder three games out of four.
But even that was a different time. The Mavs aren't trying to stay ahead of the Thunders of the world, they're trying to steal one from them. They're not trying to defend a crown, they're trying to stay relevant. And on a team like that, try as I might, it's really, really hard not to love what Vince Carter is doing.
Keep fighting, Vince. And keep doing this.