Will Toronto's prodigal son, Vince Carter return home?
In June, of 1998, the Toronto Raptors engaged, in a draft night trade, that changed the franchise’s place, in history. Glen Grunwald, then Raptors general manager, with the 4th pick, of the NBA draft, selected Antwan Jamison a power forward, from the University of North Carolina.
Jamison’s teammate, Vince Carter a 6’6 small forward was selected next, by the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors wanted Jamison and the Raptors wanted Carter. A deal was made swapping the NCAA teammates for each other. The rest is history. While Jamison was a good player in his own right, Carter electrified and then later annoyed Toronto fans for nearly 7 years.
Carter was Rookie of the Year and then lead the Raptors to their first three playoff appearance starting in 2000. In a classic game seven, 2001 second round NBA playoff series against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers, Carter and Iverson put on a scoring clinic.
Carter is also well known for the 2000 NBA slam dunk contest where his leaping ability produced iconic dunks seared into the memory, of those lucky enough, to have witnessed the event. There was also an in game dunk for USA basketball at the 2000 Summer Olympics against French man Frederic Weis, a 7’2 center, who will never live down the fact. Carter not only lept over the upright center, but was also fully extended in posterizing the New York Knicks 1999 draft pick. Weis never played in the NBA.
Vince Carter, known as half man-half amazing or 'Vinsanity', was worth the price of admission and appeared to be the savior of a listless Raptors organization. However, his tenure, in Toronto, ended, with him orchestrating his way out of town.
In perhaps the worst deal the Toronto Raptors were involved with, Carter was sent to the New Jersey Nets in 2005. With that deal, Toronto’s one-time superhero became a supervillain. Every time he returned to Toronto thereafter, he was booed and jeered, when his name was announced, when he stepped on or off the court, the Toronto faithful let Carter know of their disgust.
Time, it seems heals all wounds. Toronto Raptors' faithful, in recent times, are again cheering their one-time hero and villain. In an article with Vice sports, last December Carter stated about Toronto:
"Nothing changes. I still love being here, whether it's 10, 12 years ago, or today. I still love being here," he said after the game. "There's nothing like it. I was telling the young guys when you come in, there's nothing like it. I've been on two different sides of [it]—there's nothing like it. But it's still a place that's near and dear to me. "It’s a great feeling being here, nothing has changed."
He went on to suggest the possibility of becoming Toronto’s prodigal son and returning:
"It'll happen, for sure. Somehow, whether it's one day or something, it'll happen,"
It has been 13 years since he left Toronto. Aside from New Jersey he’s made stops in Orlando, Phoenix, Dallas, Memphis, Sacramento and now he’s in Atlanta. The Toronto Raptors could use a player of Carter's talents, on their bench.
In a recent contest against the Raptors, Carter scored 14 points. On one play, he drove to the basket, lept, was met chest to chest by Jonas Valanciunas, and showing a little of his old hang time Carter out waited the Raptors center banking the shot for two of his tally.
Also, of significant note, in that game, Carter closed the scoring recording his 25,001 point, for his career, with a dunk. Carter sits 26th all-time on the NBA scoring leaders list.
At 41 years old, Carter still has enough to help a contender like the Raptors. It would delight the fans, but his career 37.3% and 37% for this season from three-point range, is the type of consistent shooting the Raptors bench could use.
His salary this season is only $4.264 million. With the Atlanta Hawks 3-16, on the season, Carter’s services would best be used, by a contender, like the Raptors. Its time for Carter to return home and finish his hall of fame career where it began.