Flashback to 1999: Life in Vince Carter’s Rookie Year

By: Whitney Carroll McKinnon
Posted: August 10, 2019

Vince Carter recently announced that he’s re-signed with the Atlanta Hawks for another year in the NBA, making him the longest-tenured player in league history.

After being selected in the 1998 draft, Carter made his debut with the Toronto Raptors during the following season (which was shortened by a strike). In February of 1999, Carter played his first game, a 103-92 win against the Celtics.

If Carter plays a game in 2020 (which, barring any unforeseen circumstances, he should), he will be the only NBA player ever to suit up in four different decades.

It’s strange to think about how much the world has changed in the years since Carter first came on the scene. Music, society, and especially technology have come such a long way throughout one man’s NBA career, and it’s worth taking a look back on what our world looked like 20 years ago.

Ready to feel old? Let’s go back to 1999.

The Times

In early 1999, America was embroiled in the Clinton impeachment trial.

Proceedings began in December of 1998 against President Bill Clinton on the grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice in the wake of the Lewinsky scandal, and by the following February, the ordeal was coming to a head. On February 12, 1999, President Clinton was acquitted when the Senate failed to gain the two-thirds majority vote required for removal from office.

Clinton impeachment trial
The Clinton impeachment trial

Meanwhile, Google was in its infancy in early 1999. The world’s most popular search engine had been founded the previous September, headquartered in a Silicon Valley garage. Later in 1999, the company would outgrow its modest roots and open up its first office—with just eight employees on staff.

Google original home with computer and boxes
The original home of Google: a garage in Silicon Valley

The Tunes

When Carter made his debut on February 5, 1999, the number one song was “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. Later that month, Lauryn Hill would clean up at the Grammys, taking home five awards for her album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” (the first hip hop album to be crowned Album of the Year). Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” was also in the middle of  a cultural moment, winning four Grammys (including Record of the Year and Song of the Year) as well as an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Vince Carter wasn’t the only legend who made his big-time debut in February of 1999. “Slim Shady LP” by Eminem was released to the public weeks later, the first major label album that introduced mainstream music listeners to the then-controversial rapper.

Stuff We Didn’t Have Yet

In case you don’t feel like a dinosaur yet, here are some now-basic amenities that weren’t available when Vince Carter made his NBA debut.

  • WiFi: Wireless internet was not invented until 2003.
  • GPS: GPS technology was developed in the 1970s for the Department of Defense, but not released to the general public until 2000.
  • DVR: Remember TiVo? The digital TV recording device didn’t hit the market until later on in 1999.
  • Online gaming consoles: Internet-connected TV gaming wasn’t around until 2002, when Xbox Live debuted (with a hefty $70 price tag for the necessary upgrade).
  • Hybrid vehicles: Toyota released the Prius, the first mass-produced hybrid car, to the United States automotive market in 2000.
  • Texting: Text messaging was introduced by AT&T in October of 2000.

Life has changed so much since Vinsanity burst onto the scene. It’s exciting to think about what innovations may be at our fingertips in the next 20 years.

Image sources: C-Span, TechSpot, Inside Hook

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