Karlovic, 37, Meets His 40-Year-Old NBA Counterpart
During a meeting between the two masters of their sports, Vince Carter waited until the end to share his words of advice with Ivo Karlovic on Wednesday evening.
Carter, who at 40 is the oldest player in the NBA, met Karlovic before the New Orleans Pelicans took on the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. The two professional athletes exchanged pleasantries and traded equipment on the court: Carter gave Karlovic a pair of autographed shoes, size 16.5; Karlovic gave Carter an autographed Head Radical racquet.
Carter was excited by the new stick. He told Karlovic that his tennis-playing daughter will love it. Then Carter delivered the two words of wisdom that Karlovic has surely heard by now: “Stay young,” Carter said.
“You, too,” Karlovic replied.
The 6'11" Karlovic, who lives in Miami, prefers the Miami Heat over the Memphis Grizzlies but he still enjoyed meeting an NBA legend. “It was a big honour for me. I know of him. I have watched his games, his dunking contests and everything for 10 years or even more,” Karlovic told ATPWorldTour.com. “It was really cool to meet a guy like that.”
Carter is still playing great basketball with the Grizzlies, and Karlovic has been producing his best tennis in recent years. Last year, the Zagreb native won two ATP World Tour titles – Newport and Los Cabos – the most he had won since 2007 when he won three titles.
At the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in July, Karlovic, then 37 years, 4 months old, became the oldest ATP World Tour singles titlist since Marty Riessen won a title in Lafayette, Louisana, at 37 years, 9 months old in 1979. This week, Karlovic is the top seed at the Memphis Open. On Thursday, Karlovic will take on Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, who beat Aussie Jordan Thompson 6-3, 6-0 on Wednesday.
Karlovic, who turns 38 later this month, is currently the second-oldest player in the Top 100 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Radek Stepanek, who is ranked No. 97, turned 38 in November.
The Memphis Open was featured a few times during the Grizzlies game on Wednesday evening. Steve Johnson and Leander Paes played a mini-game of tennis after the first quarter, and Darian King was the honourary captain during the pre-game captains meeting. King met NBA stars Anthony Davis, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.
“It was a great moment,” King said. “I didn't recognise how big, how physical they are. I'm going to try to get that size.”
Speaking of sizes, the 16.5-size shoes Karlovic received from Carter are a little small for the big Croatian. Karlovic wears a size 17. But he doesn't plan on donating the gifts.
“I want to give these a try tomorrow to see if I can squeeze into them," he said.