I say this with surprisingly mixed feelings: Vince Carter is approaching the end of his career. I recently came across this post that reminded me that this season is the final year of his guaranteed deal with the Magic.

I still remember VC’s first return to Toronto as a Net when the over-sized child in me screamed, “You’ll never win anything, Vince!” from the nosebleeds. Even then, in the back of my basketball brain, I didn’t necessarily think it was true. Even weirder? I didn’t necessarily want it to be true.

I’m one of those, “make the most out of your abilities” types, and as much as I shared the “Half-man, Half-a-Season” anger with the Raptor faithful (hell, I even wore this shirt after Vince’s divorce in ’07), it just didn’t seem right that VC’s incredible gifts could win him dunk contests, but not playoff games. The NBA has seen plenty of talented, but aimless ballers like Vince, so it’s impossible to feel sorry for him. Still, there’s a part of me that remains perplexed at his disappointing career.

Despite his jaw-dropping abilities, he’s reached only one conference final, which was last season, and then proceeded to make very little of his presence felt in a six-game loss to the Celtics. He averaged 5.5 points in Orlando’s two wins versus Boston and shot 37% overall for the series.

Vince will be 34-years-old in January. He’s had every chance to lead a team. Yes, this is a redemption year for him, but so have many others in his career. And, Orlando is prodding him to produce more in ’10-’11? Ask Rashard Lewis for more, hope Jameer Nelson bounces back, give JJ Redick more minutes at shooting guard, but unless the Magic have uncovered the special cure, the sad cliché persists: What you see is what you get from Vince.