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Monday, November 26, 2018

Vince Carter Joins the 25,000 Point Club

On Wednesday night, Vince Carter scored on a slam dunk as the game ended. That used to be a routine play for Carter but this particular dunk was anything but routine, as those two points enabled Carter to become the 26th player in ABA/NBA history to amass at least 25,000 career points. The club "officially" only has 22 members, as the NBA still stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the ABA statistics of Julius Erving (30,026 points; eighth all-time), Moses Malone (29,580 points; ninth all-time), Dan Issel (27,482 points, 11th all-time) and Rick Barry (25,279; tied for 23rd all-time). Carter scored 14 points as his Atlanta Hawks lost 124-108 to Carter's first NBA team, the Toronto Raptors.

Carter has evolved from a high flying eight-time All-Star who averaged at least 20 ppg for 10 straight seasons (2000-09), including six seasons during which he scored at least 24 ppg, into a veteran leader who serves as a role model of professionalism for his younger teammates. The soon to be 42 year old has the enthusiasm of a player half his age, as he noted right after attaining the milestone: "I still love it. I still love playing. I was willing to do whatever it took to stick around. All of the things I have to do to play a game, to be prepared, to get prepared for the season, I'm willing to do. I'm asked constantly, 'What's the secret? What are you doing?' Well, the secret is I'm willing to do whatever it takes."

As I noted when Carmelo Anthony joined the 25,000 point club earlier this year, this is a significant accomplishment for a scorer; every player who has scored at least 25,000 points is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame or is a lock to be inducted as soon as he becomes eligible. Simple math shows why this is the case: a player could score 25 ppg while playing 80 games per season for a dozen years and still be 1000 points short of qualifying!

Younger fans may not realize that the 25,000 point club used to be even more exclusive. The "charter" members, so to speak, are Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and John Havlicek, who founded the club from the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, the club added six members: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who is still the all-time scoring leader), Julius Erving, Dan Issel, Elvin Hayes, George Gervin, Moses Malone and Rick Barry. The club has since more than doubled in size. This is similar to the dramatic increase in the number of chess players who have at least a 2600 FIDE (International Chess Federation) rating; there were just 15 such players on the first official rating list in 1971 but by 1991 there were 33 and by 2004 a 2600 rating was not enough to earn a top 100 spot in the world rankings. Chess ratings are affected by the composition of the entire pool of players (it is easier to gain points when there are more players who have high ratings), while pro basketball point totals are affected not just by skill but also by rules changes, style of play changes, training advances that have extended careers and other factors. None of this is meant to denigrate Carter’s accomplishment but rather just to place it in context. Being one out of four or five is different than being one out of 25 or 26, regardless of what is being measured or how it is being measured.

That being said, Carter deserves congratulations for his longevity, his skill level, his dedication and his willingness to accept a lesser role as his skills declined, something that has proven to be difficult for some of his contemporaries (including fellow 25,000 point club member Carmelo Anthony).
 

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posted by David Friedman @ 2:17 AM

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