Although Canadian basketball fans were enraged when Vince Carter left the Toronto Raptors in 2004, basically forcing the team to trade away their best player, most of those feelings have mellowed since.
For one thing, the Raptors have enjoyed a bunch of winning seasons, including a playoff trip to the Eastern Conference Final, which will always help mend sore feelings. But perhaps even more than that, a decade-plus after Carter bolted from his original NBA team, fans in Toronto are able to recognize that Carter did for the franchise, and even the state of basketball for an entire country.
Carter, which his ferocious dunks and high scoring play, forced everyone to pay attention to the Raptors when most of the United States regarded the team as “oh yeah, that Canadian dinosaur team that still exists.” He inspired an entire generation of young Canadian ballers, seen in recent years with the emergence of Northeners like Tristan Thompson and Andrew Wiggins. Carter even had an entire film dedicated to him at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, called The Carter Effect — chronicling his influence on Toronto as a true basketball city and helped turn the Raps into a frachise that would go on to retain big name free agents like DeMar DeRozen and Kyle Lowry.
Carter, now 40-years-old, is still kicking around the NBA as a bench player. On Sunday, his Sacramento Kings were in Toronto, giving fans one last chance (probably) to see their former hero in action. As the clock ticked down, Carter was taken out of the game — a classy move by head coach Dave Joerger. Raptor fans responded by giving Carter a standing ovation.
— NBA (@NBA) December 17, 2017
After the game, Carter teased a potential reunion with his original NBA team — although he didn’t necessarily say it would be as a player.
“It’ll happen I’m sure,” Carter said when asked returning to the club someday. “Somehow, whether it’s one day or something, it’ll happen. It’s supposed to happen I think. I can say that now.”
It might not make sense for the Raptors to actually sign Carter to a one-year deal, as his best days are definitely behind him and the team is trying to compete with the Celtics and Cavaliers for top spot in the East. But maybe a one-day contract so he can retire a Raptor is in the cards, or even some sort of coaching/front office job when Carter does finally hang up the sneakers for good.