June 25, 2020 / 5:41 PM / 14 days ago

Dunk specialist Carter announces retirement after 22 seasons

(Reuters) - Atlanta Hawks guard Vince Carter officially announced his retirement from professional basketball on Thursday after an NBA record 22-season career during which his high-flying dunks made him one of the game’s top players in his prime.

FILE PHOTO: Toronto Raptors Vince Carter drives to the hoop during the first half of his team's NBA game against the Seattle Supersonics in Toronto, November 19, 2004. REUTERS/Andrew Wallace/File Photo

Carter, widely regarded as one of the greatest dunkers of all time, had previously said the 2019-20 NBA campaign would be his last but had not addressed his playing status since the NBA suspended its season in mid-March due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I am officially done playing basketball professionally,” Carter, 43, told the “Winging It” podcast.

Carter, the first NBA player to feature in four different decades, signed a one-year deal with the Hawks last August.

However, their season is over as they did not qualify for the NBA’s 22-team format for restarting action in late July at Disney World amid the novel coronavirus.

Carter played for eight teams during his career but will be most remembered for his time with the Toronto Raptors, where he put the Canadian city on the basketball map and earned the nickname “Air Canada” for his feats above the rim.

After his first season in Toronto, Carter was named the NBA’s rookie of the year in 1999. He was then named an All-Star for each of the following eight seasons.

In his second season, Carter won the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend with a dazzling display that further increased his stardom and helped ignite basketball’s popularity in what had otherwise been an ice hockey-mad country.

Carter, who ranks 22nd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during a career that also included stops in New Jersey, Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento and Atlanta.

He also helped USA Basketball win gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2003 FIBA Americas tournament.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

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