In wake of Vince Carter announcing that he is retiring from the NBA, we're taking this week to celebrate his historic career. For more on Carter's legacy, check NBA.com/Vince.
Vince Carter finally called it a career last month as he announced his retirement following a historic NBA career that lasted a record 22 seasons.
It's nearly impossible to tell the story of the NBA without mentioning Carter who in addition to playing more seasons than any player in the history of the league, also played against more players than anyone else.
While Carter will almost certainly be remembered first and foremost as one of the game's greatest dunkers ever and the Toronto Raptors' first star who very well may have saved professional basketball in Canada following the exodus of the Grizzlies from Vancouver to Memphis, he'll no doubt go down as one of the ageless wonders of the NBA world, a star who constantly evolved and adapted to stick with the times and hold off Father Time for as long as half man, half humanly possible.
Of all the numbers which could be used to articulate Carter's indelible impact on the league, there's perhaps none greater than 1,668.
What's that you ask?
It's the total number of individual players that Carter played against in his career, more than any other player in the history of the league.
In fact... if you add up every player that has ever suited up in the NBA - 4,489 to be exact according to Basketball-Reference.com - Carter appeared in at least one game against a whopping 37% of the league's all-time players.
Perhaps crazier is tracing Carter's direct lineage throughout NBA history dating all of the way back to the very first game ever.
Vince Carter played against Rick Mahorn...
During his rookie season, a then 22-year-old Carter squared off against a then 40-year-old Mahorn twice.
Best known for his days on the Bad Boy Pistons, Mahorn is most synonymous with the rough and rowdy 1980s. By the time 1999 rolled around, Mahorn was coming off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers in his 18th and final season.
Who played against Elvin Hayes...
Mahorn's time in the NBA dates all the way back to 1980 which means he crossed paths with Elvin Hayes. They played against each other six times.
Hayes entered the NBA back in 1968 with the San Diego Rockets and led the NBA in scoring as a rookie.
Who played against Bill Russell...
On November 11, 1968 and in his 11th career game, Hayes played against five-time MVP Bill Russell who was in his 13th and final season.
Russell entered the NBA in 1956 when he was the second pick in the draft behind Si Green.
Who played against Dolph Schayes...
Shortly after Russell entered the NBA, future Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes became the NBA's all-time leading scorer. Russell and Schayes played against each other exactly 100 times, the first of which came on December 30, 1956 in a game that a rookie Russell finished with 20 points and 32 rebounds.
One of the NBA's original ironmen, Schayes was at that point in the eighth of his then-record 15 seasons.
His time in the NBA dates all the way back to 1949.
Who played against Ed Sadowski...
Schayes squared off several times against Hall of Famer Ed Sadowski who was captain of the 1946-47 Toronto Huskies.
Who was the leading scorer in the 1st game in NBA history
On November 1, 1946 Sadowski scored a game-high 18 points in the first ever game in NBA history, a two-point loss to the New York Knickerbockers in a game that took place in Toronto. Here is the box score for that game courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
And so there you have it.
From the first game in NBA history to Dolph Schayes to Bill Russell to Elvin Hayes to Rick Mahorn to Vince Carter.
Just five degrees of separation between the literal birth of the league and Vinsanity.
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.