Vince Carter, Chauncey Billups Elected To Naismith Hall Of Fame

Two legendary (mostly) 21st-century multi-time NBA All-Stars are headed to Springfield this year. Eight-time All-Star swingman Vince Carter, who played for an NBA-record 22 seasons, and five-time All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups have finally made the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2024 class, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Carter, who only retired in 2020, is a first-ballot honoree. Billups, meanwhile, has been eligible for six years.

A 6’6″ shooting guard/small forward out of North Carolina, Carter was selected with the fifth pick in the 1998 draft by the Golden State Warriors but was flipped to the Raptors instantly in exchange for UNC teammate Antawn Jamison. The 6’9″ power forward would go on to be a two-time All-Star with the Washington Wizards down the line, but he never blossomed into the mind-melting superstar Vinsanity would be in his prime.

Vince Carter #15 of the New Jersey Nets takes a failed last second shot that would have won the game behind Rasheed Wallace #36 and Chauncey Billups #1 of the Detroit Pistons at the Palace…

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

During his six years in Toronto, Carter became Canada’s first-ever superstar NBA hooper, a hyper-athletic, explosive slasher, and dunker probably best remembered for his dunks in non-NBA contests. Especially this one:

My goodness. Air Canada really earned that Half-Man/Half-Amazing nickname. He was an instant splash in the league and was named the Rookie of the Year in 1998-99 even while finishing 16th in MVP voting. As a rookie.

VC’s breathtaking displays made him a crowd favorite everywhere, which served him well when he essentially forced his way out of town, in a December 2004 trade to the then-New Jersey Nets. He enjoyed solid postseason success with both the Raptors and New Jersey as the two teams’ de facto best player, making the Eastern Conference Semifinals three times between 2001-07.

He ultimately would rank among the league’s top 16 MVP vote recipients four different times, finishing as high as 10th in his second season, when he pushed Toronto to a 45-37 record.

Beyond his All-Star prime, Carter was the headline of a June 2009 trade that sent him to the then-reigning NBA Finals runner-ups, Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic. He was a critical piece of an Eastern Conference Finals club that season.

Carter soon managed to reinvent himself as a still-freakishly athletic, hyper-efficient floor-spacing veteran swingman, in stints with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, and Memphis Grizzlies. He finished in the top 14 in Sixth Man of the Year voting during his Dallas and Memphis years three times. Carter subsequently wrapped up his career as a reserve with the Sacramento Kings and finally the Hawks.

Across an astounding 1,541 regular season games (983 starts), Carter boasts averages of 16.7 points on .435/.371/.798 shooting splits, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, one steal and 0.6 blocks. During his All-Star years, from 2000-07, he averaged 24.6 points on .446/.379/.794 shooting splits, 5.4 boards, 4.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.8 blocks a night.

Billups was a bit of a late bloomer. The 6’3″ Colorado product was selected with the third overall pick in 1997 by the Rick Pitino-era Boston Celtics but was flipped midseason to a pre-Carter Raptors squad. He then bounced around as a part-time starting combo guard, from the Denver Nuggets to the Minnesota Timberwolves and finally to the Detroit Pistons in 2002-03.

And that’s when things got interesting. Billups developed into the dynamic 3-and-D offensive focal point of an upstart Pistons squad that upset that Hall of Famer-laden 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers in a five-game NBA Finals demolition. “Mr. Big Shot” was named Finals MVP for his efforts. Only other player from that magical first five, Defensive Player of the Year center Ben Wallace, has made the Hall of Fame thus far, but a case could certainly be made for stretch-four Rasheed Wallace, a four-time All-Star in his own right.

The team was rounded out by three-time All-Star shooting guard Rip Hamilton and elite defense-first small forward Tayshaun Prince.

That elite Pistons squad was so good it went to the NBA Finals for a second straight season the next year, where it fell in a seven-game rock fight to Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs. It was only after that, in 2005-06 at the ripe old age of 29, that Billups made his first of five consecutive All-Star teams. He finished as high as fifth in league MVP voting (that season, as it turns out).

Billups was also named to three All-NBA teams while leading his Pistons and later Nuggets squads to seven straight conference finals appearances, from 2003-09. Billups was one of the most feared defensive players at his position in his prime, earning two All-Defensive Team honors. In his later years, he also played for the New York Knicks and LA Clippers, before wrapping up his career with Detroit in 2013-14.

In 1,043 regular season games (937 starts) during a 17-year career, Billups boasted averages of 15.2 points on .415/.387/.894 shooting splits, 5.4 assists, 2.9 rebounds and one steal a night.