The NBA released 40 unseen Vince Carter dunks in honor of his 40th birthday

Thursday is Vince Carter's 40th birthday, but we're the ones who received a gift.

To honor the 19-year veteran, the NBA did us all a favor by releasing 40 of Carter's previously unseen dunks. Now, most of the time when things are tabbed as "unseen" they're actually things real fans have seen a million times. While this footage isn't technically unseen (there are players with him and people in the stands), these are legit underground videos from practice, USA Basketball competition, charity events, etc.
It's time to turn back the clock with some vintage Vince.

If you watched the NBA in the late 90s and early 2000s, this has to make you nostalgic.

Carter is arguably the best dunker of all time, and his performance at the 2000 dunk contest is one of the signature moments in NBA history. Shaq pretty much summed up all of our feelings after watching Carter break out dunks we never thought were humanly possible.

Perhaps even more impressive than Carter's insane dunks was his ability to successfully transition into the second stage of his career. So many times we see players who rely on athleticism fall off the map once they get older, but Carter -- currently with the Grizzlies, his sixth NBA team -- improved his three-point shot, got better on the defensive end and figured out how to become a role player.

Thanks to his extended career, he now ranks 24th all-time in scoring, fifth all-time in three-pointers made, and is pretty much a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Not many people get to celebrate their 40th birthday as an NBA player, so Carter's clearly doing something right.

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Vince Carter at 40: 'I'm still standing'

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Vinsanity comes in vintage flashes these days, as the former hurdler of 7-foot Frenchman and author of unimaginable slam dunks descends from his half-man, half-amazing heights to his half-man, half-aging twilight. On Wednesday night, the eve of his 40th birthday, Vince Carter punched in 30 minutes on the clock for a Memphis Grizzlies win over his original team, the Toronto Raptors, but his work had only begun.

As fans exited FedEx Forum, perhaps still marveling at the 360-degree layup the old guy pulled off earlier that night, Carter was resting his back on a weightlifting bench, preparing to press 225 pounds while Grizzlies strength and conditioning coach Chattin Hill held a double-wide paddle on his chest to mark the press. For 20 minutes, Carter lifted, worked on a speed bag, did core exercises with a medicine ball and used other weight-lifting machines while the music of rapper T.I. provided the background noise.

“You get older, you lose it,” Carter told The Vertical. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s tiring. But it’s about keeping my body strong, my mind strong.”

The Grizzlies are all too familiar with the grueling postgame routine that Carter has maintained since joining the team in the summer of 2014, so there was no shock or awe that he was putting his body through such a grind – or that the NBA’s oldest player was the only member of the squad delaying the ice and shower for a few reps. Carter didn’t become one of 17 players to reach 19 seasons in NBA history strictly because he just wanted to hang around or coaches wanted to honor his name.

This kind of longevity required a passion and love for the game that was somehow questioned during his early days as a rim-punishing, aerial gymnast. To outlast so many of his peers and rivals from that initial post-Michael Jordan era, Carter also needed to dedicate himself to do whatever it took to not only be on a roster but remain a valuable contributor on a playoff contender. That meant swallowing his pride to make the uneasy mental transition from superstar to sixth man, sacrificing a few late-night good times and committing to a game-day program that involves him arriving three hours before tip-off to put up shots, bathe in an ice tub, and undergo treatment and taping – all to chase around players, some of whom are now half his age.

“I’m still standing. I’m still competing, playing at this level, doing what I need to do to still be here. I still have a burning desire to compete and be around,” Carter told The Vertical. “I don’t expect anything. I’m going to work for it, like I’ve done my entire career. I’m going to prove that I deserve to play the minutes that I’m playing. I’m going to prove to you that I deserve to still be in this league. That’s kind of been my drive. Humbling myself and staying hungry for the opportunity to still be around. That’s what it is. I don’t come in like, ‘You know what I’ve done? I deserve to be here.’ Nah, I don’t see it that way.”

‘I can’t put me out of the NBA yet’

Carter is still standing because he doesn’t want to worry about being anything other than a ball player. He has an idea of his post-basketball career – preferably in broadcasting – but won’t spend much time thinking about it because it would be the first sign that he was already checking out. Playing 20 seasons became the goal once he blasted through his initial goal of 15 after being drafted fifth overall in 1998, but he’s not necessarily looking to stop on a number that only five other NBA players have reached. “It scares me. I cannot put myself on the other side of the fence. I can’t put me out of the NBA yet,” Carter told The Vertical. “We’re just going to go for it, until the doors close and there are no more opportunities. That’s kind of where I am. If 21 [seasons] were available, the old guy will still be around.”

Kobe Bryant, a longtime foil going back to Carter’s AAU days, stepped aside last season after becoming the first perimeter player to reach 20 seasons. Allen Iverson, with whom Carter staged his greatest one-on-one battle during a 2001 second-round series, was inducted in 2016 into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. And Tracy McGrady, his cousin and former teammate with the haunting what-if of a career that was ringless, just got the call that he’ll be on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time this year. Those were three of the players with whom Carter spent the early part of his career entangled. There were numerous others, but none tested him more. And they were also the names often used by critics who questioned Carter’s drive and expected him to leave the game once his athletic gifts began to wane. Carter never forgot what was said about him when he was establishing himself as one of the game’s most popular players. He also didn’t waste his time trying to defend how he felt about basketball: His answer comes every time he slides on that uniform and dons a headband for the umpteenth time.

“The jokes on you,” Carter said of his early critics. “I’m a patient guy. I just wait my time for things like that, because, you know what, it’s all going to come to the light. And when the water rises to the top, I want you to see who is on top of that wave, and here I am today.”

‘I won’t sell my soul [for a title]’

Carter hears all the time, from peers, coaches, executives and fans, how he’ll be headed to the Hall of Fame after he hangs up his size 16 sneakers. He’s only 81 points from passing Iverson for 23rd on the all-time scoring list, four 3-pointers shy of becoming the fifth member of the exclusive 2,000-made club, and about to have the fifth-highest scoring average by any player in his age-40 season. His uncertainty over what happens once his career is over isn’t just a motivating factor for playing but for also doing all of the ancillary activities required to stay healthy enough to compete.

He needs no reminder that he hasn’t tasted the champagne of a championship shower, nor has he even made it to an NBA Finals. But chasing jewelry has never been his thing, and it won’t be all he takes into consideration when he becomes a free agent this summer.

“That’s what you’re here for. That was the goal, Day One. One day I’m going to get that chance. I still say that today. One day, I’m going to get that chance. I think it’s just all about opportunity. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen – whether I’m here next year, or somewhere else that’s a contender. I’m not saying, ‘OK, I need to be here for it to happen.’ Because it’s not guaranteed anywhere,” Carter told The Vertical. “Your life has already been planned out the way it’s supposed to go and we’re just putting the pieces together that have been put together. So yes, that is the ultimate goal. I would love to hold up that trophy. I would love to be in that situation. Not at the expense of … and I could fill in the blanks with a lot of things. I won’t sell my soul. Wherever that is, or with whoever it is, I will be prepared to do whatever it takes to help that team.”

Carter still enjoys the camaraderie of being around his teammates, of absorbing old-man jokes, of joking with 20-year-old Deyonta Davis that he could be his father, of having the guys over to his Central Florida home for Christmas and shootaround – yes, his house has a gym large enough to host a practice. He’s not ready to start missing all of that, even as he shows up for every season saying farewell to another familiar face.

Paul Pierce, who entered the league the same season as Carter, has already announced that he’s done after this season. Dirk Nowitzki, another member of the 1998 draft class, has also hinted that he might have to evaluate his plans at the conclusion of this season if his body continues to betray him. Carter has a unique way of viewing his circumstances. “I kind of think of an elderly person, when they go through life and all of their friends die off, and I kind of put myself there. Like, what were they thinking [at that difficult time]?” Carter told The Vertical. “Thank God I’m going on. Thank God he’s given me the ability to still be here healthy to do what I do. Thank God he’s given me the ability to go through all of this. When I see guys go, I’m like, ‘Well, it was their time.’ ”

Vinsanity: The Raptors years

Carter doesn’t reside in regret over how certain aspects of his career played out, but much of what he would’ve changed involves his stint with the Raptors. He and McGrady have had numerous conversations over the years about what would’ve happened had they decided to play together for a few more years. McGrady left for Orlando after playing just two seasons with Carter. “How many championships would we have? We don’t know. We wish that we could’ve explored that a little more,” Carter told The Vertical. “But we were young guys trying to establish ourselves in the league and that’s what he wanted at the time. … They wanted me to hate Tracy, and that’s my cousin, first of all, that’s all absurd. But they wanted me to have this rivalry and a real beef over that. He’s trying to create his opportunity to be who he always wanted to be, to fulfill the dream of being the go-to guy, the man, the Tracy McGrady that he envisioned. So why hate on that? You can’t.”

Vince Carter Is 40 Years Old And Still Doing This

Vince Carter is a gift we don’t deserve, a star who burned brightly and didn’t burn out. Unlike, say, Tracy McGrady (who is two-and-a-half years younger!), Carter has managed to remain a useful NBA player more than a decade past his prime. Carter turns 40 years old today, and he celebrated with the above 360-degree reverse layup last night’s against the Raptors.

If that looked familiar to Toronto fans, well...

Carter, the reigning NBA Teammate of the Year award winner, played 30 minutes off the bench in Memphis’s 101-99 win over the Raptors. And he’s on pace to make his 11th career postseason, a wonder considering some of the crappy teams he was on back when he was asked to be their best player. Never leave, Vince.

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