Vince Carter’s farewell tour for the Hawks has included many milestones and memorable moments.
Now, the 21-year NBA veteran has become a vendor and collector in the jersey trade, swapping uniforms with big names across the league. Carter says the phenomenon started with requests from opposing players who know he won’t be around much longer. The first notable jersey swap this season was with Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat after a Hawks win on Nov. 3.
“These guys asked if we could exchange jerseys and I’m all for it. They have appreciation for me and I have appreciation for them,” Carter said.
Wade has been on his own farewell tour for the Heat this season, adding Carter to a list of players that he swapped with including the Lakers’ LeBron James, the Celtics’ Terry Rozier, the Suns’ Jamal Crawford and the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. He also exchanged jerseys with teammate Trae Young in the second Hawks-Heat matchup Jan. 6.
Hawks equipment manager Zac Walsh, who supplies all of Carter’s jerseys, doesn’t mind the surge in demand.
“It’s never an annoyance with Vince,” Walsh said. “He’s one of the nicest guys here. He’s a legend, so you don’t mind going out of the way for him. I always have at least three or four extra ones in case he needs it.”
Carter’s most recent additions came Jan. 13 against the Bucks, a team with many ties to Atlanta, including former coach Mike Budenholzer.
According to Walsh, Carter wears two jerseys every game. After the 133-114 loss to the Bucks, Carter swapped one with former Hawk Ersan Ilyasova and the other with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“I’m a big fan of his,” Antetokounmpo told reporters after the game. “He’s done great things for the league, my generation and the next generation that’s coming. I just wanted his jersey, man.”
As for what he does with the growing collection of jerseys, Carter said he does the same thing that anybody else would do - he puts it on a wall. Carter noted that in his Florida home he has a collection of jerseys from across the years. However, his favorite piece of memorabilia comes from a player he can’t get a game-worn jersey from anymore.
“I’m still working on my Dr. J. (Julius Erving),” Carter said. “He was my childhood hero growing up. He signed a picture that the two of us took when I won the dunk contest. That’s something I cherish more even than some of the jerseys. But I definitely have some cool ones in my stash.”
His appreciation for legends that came before, such as Erving, influences Carter’s interest in getting current players’ jerseys. He knows that the cycle continues, even after his days in the league near an end.
“When my time is up, a lot of people will want things from them, and I can say I got jerseys from some of the best in the league currently. I’m fans of them all, so I’m always down for an exchange,” Carter said.
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