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Caulton Tudor

Nearing 40, Duncan and Carter still starring

Posted April 28

The oldest NBA player in history was a chap named Matthew Hickey, who finally ended his career with the Providence Steamrollers on Jan. 28, 1948 - a couple of days shy of his 46th birthday.

Watching San Antonio’s Tim Duncan work against Dallas in the current first-round playoff set makes me believe old “Nat” Hickey’s record could be in jeopardy and that Ponce de Leon was looking for the fountain of youth on the wrong side of the Caribbean.

Duncan, who turned 38 on April 25, still has a lot of the same graceful game that he brought to Wake Forest from his native Virgin Islands more than 20 years ago.

Entering the fourth game of the playoff set tonight in Dallas, Duncan is doing just about what he’s always done - 20 points per game, 8.5 rebounds over the three games.

Thanks to a sensational game-winning 3-point shot by 37-year-old former UNC star Vince Carter on Saturday, the Mavericks won 109-108 to take a 2-1 series lead.

Carter finished with 11 points in 23 minutes.

Duncan went 36 minutes and finished with 22 points, five rebounds, two assists and blocked three shots.

The entire game and Carter’s heroics were reminders of a time when the ACC was the NBA’s most important talent incubator, in part because the players stayed in school long enough to mature on and off the court.

Duncan stayed four seasons at Wake. Carter stayed three at Carolina, as did his Tar Heel teammate Antawn Jamison.
The ACC’s most durable NBA players ever followed much the same route.

Maryland’s Buck Williams (Rocky Mount High) left school after his third season and went only to play in 1,307 NBA regular-season games.

Carolina’s Sam Perkins, who stayed four years, is second on the ACC alumni list with 1,286 NBA games, followed by Duncan (1,255), Clemson’s Horace Grant (1,165), Carter (1,148), Rasheed Wallace (UNC, 1,109), Jamison (1,083), Michael Jordan (UNC, 1,072), Elden Campbell (Clemson, 1,044), Walter Davis (UNC, 1,033), Joe Smith (Maryland, 1,030) and Grant Hill (Duke, 1,026).

Only Wallace and Smith didn’t stay in school for at least three seasons.

Times, trends and draft rules changed, of course.

Obviously, no one could possibly blame the one- or two-and-done players for leaving for the financial security of a lifetime.

But unfortunately the days are probably gone when the ACC’s star players will have long, eventful careers at both the college and pro levels. Duncan, Carter, Hill and Jamison are part of a rare, but fading, fraternity.

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  • UpChuck Apr 29, 6:19 a.m.

    To each its own, but I've never understood how someone could call themselves a basketball fan... View More

    — Posted by mittnfriends

    Because it's all about one on one streetball; it's not a team effort. Unfortunately, college basketball is starting to show some of the same signs with the one and dones. I haven't followed the NBA since the Laker teams of the late 90s/early aughts with Shaq and Kobe. Saying that, I do like Durant and some other players that still truly play the game the way it should be played. However, I don't disparage NBA fans because as you said, to each his own.

  • Whistling Dixie Apr 28, 7:29 p.m.

    Definitely not the likes of a typical Puke flameout.

  • mittnfriends Apr 28, 7:10 p.m.

    That's why I'm careful to call myself a COLLEGE basketball fan. I in no way want to belittle... View More

    — Posted by jdpridg

    Much respect, sir.

    Never had an NBA team, but will root for any NC pro team... sooooo... haha... you know how that goes. Overall, the beginning of these playoffs have been incredibly competitive.

  • jdpridg Apr 28, 6:55 p.m.

    That's why I'm careful to call myself a COLLEGE basketball fan. I in no way want to belittle NBA fans. These are the best athletes in the world. I've even tried to be a fan but can't keep the interest. I still respect the league and it's fans. I understand your point mitt and honestly you are right. I just can't get myself to enjoy it the way I do college. All the best and hope your team (whichever it may be) dominates the playoffs.

  • vt94hokies Apr 28, 6:43 p.m.

    Duncan and Carter have done it the right way in how they have conducted themselves on and off of the court.

  • mittnfriends Apr 28, 6:31 p.m.

    To each its own, but I've never understood how someone could call themselves a basketball fan and not like the BEST basketball league in the world.

  • mittnfriends Apr 28, 6:31 p.m.

    To each its own, but I've never understood how someone could call themselves a basketball fan and not like the BEST basketball league in the world.

  • UpChuck Apr 28, 2:25 p.m.

    Wow did this story change directions midway through! Went from talking about the age of some... View More

    — Posted by jdpridg

    Agreed. Loved to see him play at WF. One of the few NBA players that still holds my attention. Just when you think he's done, he has a return to form season.

  • jdpridg Apr 28, 2:22 p.m.

    Wow did this story change directions midway through! Went from talking about the age of some great NBA players to bringing up the one-and-done debate.
    Always liked watching Duncan play. It's rare I pay attention to the NBA but he has pulled me in more than once. Gonna hate the inevitable day he retires.

  • CBB: North Carolina vs. Ohio State

    Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

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  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

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