Michael Osei, A&E Editor
There was a time when Vince Carter was the most influential player in basketball. His purple jersey covered in white stripes with the number 15 on the back was what every kid who watched him play wished to own. The man dubbed ‘half-man, half-amazing’ put Toronto and its NBA Raptors on the map in the basketball world. Don’t believe me? Ask the top contender to win the league MVP this year, Kevin Durant, who his favourite player was growing up.
“I was a big Vince Carter fan and I just liked their jerseys, to be honest,” said Durant on the Dan Patrick radio show a little over a year ago.
‘Half-man, half-amazing’ had astounding feats of athleticism. He jumped over 7’2”center, Frederic Weis during the 2000 Olympics for a devastating dunk that is still talked about today. He conquered and redefined the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest. And the city of Toronto, which had his services for six years from 1998, stood behind him up until the relationship took a sour turn.
It began with a missed attempt at a series clinching shot against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 post-season. I remember the outrage towards Carter from Raptors fans. I couldn’t understand it at the time until my older brother explained. Carter had missed practice to receive his diploma from the University of North Carolina.
Injuries followed, along with a declaration by Vince that he wouldn’t dunk anymore. Although he said it jokingly, it didn’t sit well with fans. Then it happened: Carter was traded to the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets) in December 2004.
Since that trade, every appearance he has made in the Air Canada Centre has been met with jeers from the Toronto crowd. To make matters worse, Carter’s game had a resurgence while he wore the Nets uniform. He showcased impressive dunking skills and crossovers, as if he were the same age he was when he won rookie of the year honors. A few seasons later Carter would also eliminate the Raptors in their first post-season appearance since 2002. The animosity hit its all time high when the former hero defeated his former squad, then led by Chris Bosh.
Fast forward to 2014. Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Grant Hill, and Jason Kidd have all entered retirement. These were names synonymous with Carter’s when they were in their prime. McGrady, Carter’s distant cousin, was drafted by the Raptors a year before Vince was. With time winding down on what has been a stellar career for Carter, the question remains whether or not he should retire a Raptor.
It has been nearly a decade since the Vince carter trade. If time does heal all wounds I say he deserves to come full circle and end his career where it all began.
Raptors fans and management shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to bring closure to the career of one of the most athletically gifted talents to ever play the game. Before he goes, bring Vince home.