When Vince Carter stands alongside Rick Carlisle during Dallas Mavericks' practices, or sits on the bench during games, he barks out instructions and words of encouragement to his teammates.
“I enjoy playing the game, I enjoy mentoring,” Carter told RealGM. “I enjoy just trying to help on the court alongside what the coaches are trying to teach us and just help develop some of these guys the best that I can. They always ask me my opinion on different situations, and I’ve been in a lot of situations in my career, so it’s fun for me and I think it helps me focus in too.”
Carter has transitioned into a sixth man and mentor in the midst of his 15th season, but the eight-time All-Star still shows occasional flashes of “Air Canada” and remains an effective player. Carter has become a more disciplined shooter averaging a career high in true shooting percentage (.565) this season.
Carter’s metamorphosis into an improved jump shooter over the course of his career is one way he’s maintained his high level of play. Carter also credits his sustained success to his training regimen.
“You have to take care of your body and I honestly think just being in the right opportunity, the right situation,” Carter told RealGM. “Of course for me you want the coaches to take care of you. When I say that, I mean you can’t be involved in every practice situation. What I’ve done is to try to eat right, get my sleep, do the things that you don’t like to do like cold tubs, icing, stretching, and stick with the weights throughout the season. That something that has to happen I think once you get older.”
While Carter has achieved numerous individual accolades over his career, it’s team success that drives Carter in the latter stages of his career.
“I didn’t win a championship yet, so that’s definitely number one,” Carter said. “I think once that happens everything else is pretty much in the bag. I’ve had a wonderful career. You go through ups and downs in your career, that’s just what happens. That’s just the maturation of being in the NBA and going through NBA life.”
Carter’s current contract with the Mavericks is guaranteed through the 2013-14 season. However, Carter isn't sure how much longer he will chase that elusive championship.
“I haven’t decided,” Carter told RealGM. “I try not to put a cap on how long I want to play. I think the body will tell you more than anything. I just want to play as many good years as possible and then go from there.”
While winning an NBA title is the only glaring accomplishment missing from Carter’s resume, he is content with the longevity of his career.
“When I walked into the NBA years ago, I said having 15 years would be a great career if I could make it there and I’ve done that,” Carter told RealGM. “Then I said I’d see what happens from there and I still feel great. I put my work in this summer so I approach each summer the same way. I’m going to put my work in and just see how I feel.”