Planning Ahead: How Vince Carter Is Preparing For His Second Career

As many previous articles on the VIKTRE Career Network have mentioned, an athlete’s transition to life after the game is a difficult experience. However, by preparing for a life sans sports while still active in your playing career, this transition can become easier.

NBA veteran Vince Carter is entering his 20th NBA season and his first as a member of the Sacramento Kings, his seventh team. The fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft (he and Dirk Nowitzki, the ninth overall pick, are the only two active players from the Draft class) signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Kings and will act as a mentor for the team’s young core of players.

While he will certainly be remembered for his rim-shaking slam dunks, including an iconic leap over 7-foot-2 French center Frederic Weis in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney (he also won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest that year), the future Hall-of-Famer has had quite the professional career outside of dunking. An eight-time NBA All-Star, Olympic Gold Medalist, Rookie of the Year and 2016 Tywman-Stokes Teammate Award Recipient, Carter is one of just six players in NBA history to average at least 20 points, four rebounds and three assists per game for 10 consecutive seasons.

Vince Carter dunks over France’s Frederic Weis in the 2000 Olympics. Photo via USA Today.

As the oldest active player in the league (he’ll turn 41 in January), Carter knows as well as anyone that his playing career is not going to last forever. While he is serving in a player-mentor type role for the Kings, the young players (and other veterans alike) can and should follow his lead in terms of second career preparation as well.

Carter has his eyes on a post-playing career in broadcasting and has already gotten some valuable experience in the booth. He was providing color commentary as an analyst for NBA TV during the NBA Summer League and was just as smooth on the mic as he is on the court. While this was not his first time commentating (he did some TV work when he was injured as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies), his performance seems to have set him up for a job when he decides to retire.

He is not the first athlete to dabble in broadcasting during their playing career, after all the NBPA has the Sportscaster U. program for current players in the offseason, but the transition from the court to the broadcasting booth is not as seamless as one would think. While a second career in TV is a way for athletes to stay around the game, it is not every athlete’s passion.

Based on Carter’s preparation while still playing, it got me thinking as how he has set the precedent for athletes to look ahead towards the future and a life after the game. While generally aimed at a non-sports audience, an article on What’s Next titled “6 Tips For Planning a Second Career,” I thought four of the principles could be applied to second-career seeking athletes.

Prepare Yourself

This seems like a no-brainer, especially for athletes who have identified with their sports for the majority of their life. While we all wish that a playing career could last forever, unfortunately it does not. One way to prepare yourself is to assess what else you are passionate about outside of sports. This key is to find a second career that aligns with your interests.

If you are not exactly sure what you want to do for a second career, that is okay too. Just by starting to consider a life after the game is a step in the right direction. For those uncertain, channeling an entrepreneurial spirit seems to be a popular career choice for former players. While Vince Carter has expressed an interest in coaching or broadcasting as a second career (And has gained experience while still playing), Golden State Warriors teammates Andre Iguodala and Steph Curry have begun investing and becoming involved in Silicon Valley start-ups, which is an emerging frontier for athletes.

Connect With A Network

As a professional athlete, your network has endless possibilities. That said, your networking experience is what you make of it. Not only do you have access to members of the front office in your organization, but also executives on a league-level, not to mention your fans (connect with them on VIKTRE.com). As an athlete, you have the platform to expand your network with relative ease.

In addition to building your network, you can also pick the brains of those before that have gone through a career transition themselves. These former players can offer insight and advice for when you are ready to make the change yourself.

Upgrade Your Skills And Education

Each professional league has different requirements for athletes to enter the league. For example, the NFL requires players to be three years removed from his high school graduation, while the NBA requires players to be only one year removed. Due to this, and the potential for prospects to capitalize on their earning potential earlier in their lives, the education level of professional athletes varies.

When transitioning to a second career, especially one in an industry in which you have no experience, learning new skills and potentially even earning your degree can be very beneficial. For football players, the NFLPA offers classes at partner institutions in various subjects. The NBPA has various educational programs for its players as well.

Evaluate Your Finances

While it is likely that a second career for a professional athlete will be far less lucrative than a playing career, keeping tabs on the financial situation is strongly recommended. Since you will not have the same income coming in as before, you may need to adjust your lifestyle in order to make your earnings last. If you decide to embark on an entrepreneurial venture it is possible to not receive any income for a year or so while the company gets up and running. All too often we hear of former athletes going broke upon retirement from their playing careers. While this is the case for many, by evaluating your finances and seeking a second career this unfortunate situation can be avoided.

For the two other tips on planning for a second career, click here.

Not only is Vince Carter serving as a mentor for the young basketball players on the Sacramento Kings, but he can also provide guidance on preparing for a career after sports. With his experience in broadcasting during the NBA Summer League, he proved that he is very capable and comfortable being in the booth. Newly retired NBA player, Paul Pierce was a force on the hardwood, but also highly sought after for his second career in broadcasting as well. He too gained valuable experience during his playing career providing analysis during the NBA Playoffs and Finals when his team was no longer competing. Not only does Carter look to follow in Pierce’s footsteps to the booth, but is sure to follow him to the Hall of Fame someday as well.

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