What I didn’t mention in that post is that Scott and I actually had a chance to talk to Vince a couple of weeks ago, during the final week of the regular season.
Vince was great to chat with, as he was friendly, courteous, honest with his answers when we got to the tougher questions about the John Thompson interview, and seemed like an all around good guy. It was kind of interesting to hear him say “oh, wow” when we explained that the reason we wanted to interview him was because we were naming him the best Raptor in franchise history for our Raptors-related blog. He sounded genuinely surprised and flattered, which kind of caught me off guard. The fact that something as small as a couple of bloggers in Toronto naming him the best Raptor would surprise him, makes me think that Carter is humbler than people give him credit for. Heck, he thanked us for our time at the end, when in reality, we were the ones that were lucky to be granted a few minutes with Vince Carter for RaptorBlog.
Anyway, here’s the interview:
RaptorBlog(Joseph): What’s it like to be the new guy on a team that’s won a championship, where they’re trying to defend their title and repeat, but you haven’t won with these guys and you’re still looking for your ring?
Vince: It’s kind of weird because when I was traded to New Jersey they had just left the Finals. When I was traded to Orlando they had just left the Finals. And now coming to Dallas they were just in the Finals. I just missed them all by a year or so. But it’s great to be a part of this team. To actually see them with the ring ceremony, actually see them with the trophy, in person, really just ignited the hunger for a ring even more than every other year. You want that opportunity. To see the reaction, to see the actual ring. Man, this is what I’ve been wanting since day one and now to get the opportunity to play on a team that’s a contender and just won it, so they all know what it’s like and they want it again. The guys who won it before, want it again, so it just makes it a great mesh.
RaptorBlog(Scott): There’s a lot of speculation from fans and media about your plans beyond this season. The next two years of your contract are only partially guaranteed, so do you think you’d consider re-entering the free agent market again if the Mavs don’t pick up the next two years, or have you given some consideration to retirement?
Vince: I’m definitely not looking into retirement right now. I’m just going to see how it plays out first and foremost and see where it goes from there. I haven’t really looked that far ahead. I just want to complete this season. I feel like if good things happen with the team and I play well, and do what needs to be done and do what’s asked of me, then you know, it will take care of itself.
RaptorBlog(Scott): One of the reasons a lot of Raptors fans might be interested in your possible free agency plans is that a lot of fans hold on to the hope that you’ll finish your career in a Toronto Raptors uniform. Assuming the Raptors submitted an appealing offer in that situation, is that something you would consider?
Vince: Of course it’s something that I would definitely consider. And it’s something in the free agency this year, once everything was worked out with Phoenix and I was a free agent, that was a question I was asked by my family and by my agent. He’s like ‘what if?’ and I was like, ‘hey, definitely, we’ll hear what they have to say.’ So I never rule it out.
RaptorBlog(Joseph): Vince, the reason we actually wanted to talk to you is because we’re doing something for RaptorBlog called the Ultimate Raptors Rankings. We’re ranking the top-30 Raptors of all time, and the reason we’re talking to you is because in the next couple of weeks, we’re going to unveil you as the top Raptor of all time…
Vince: Oh, wow…
RaptorBlog(Joseph): Yeah. And obviously what most of our readers want to hear you talk about is the Toronto Raptors and your time as a Raptor. And there were a lot of good times. Looking back now, we’re eight years removed from the situation. If someone asked you to sum up your time in Toronto, as a Raptor, what would you say?
Vince: It’s where it all started for me, my opportunity. Glen Grunwald, Butch Carter gave me the opportunity. I remember day one, Butch Carter comes to me and says ‘Vince, we’re gonna show the world what you’re made of, who you are and what you’re about.’ Day two, Charles Oakley puts his arm around me and says ‘Hey, I’m gonna show you the ropes.’ And from there I felt comfortable. It was a young kid coming to a new city, just growing up in front of millions of people. It was just an unbelievable experience. You’re going to go through ups and downs in your life, in your career, that we all go through. That’s understood. But they were all worth it, because it adds character. It was just phenomenal. You can learn. Eight years removed from it, you’ve seen so many things happen to other players, and you can kind of really enlighten them if ever asked. It’s been a wonderful ride. It’s just hard to believe it’s been 14 years now, and I’m still playing the game I love.
RaptorBlog(Scott): I wanted to get your take on the Dwight Howard situation in Orlando. You played with Dwight, so you’ve seen first hand how important he is to that team, but his public image has taken a serious hit this season with the way he’s appeared to lead the team on with his future plans, and his falling out with Stan Van Gundy. Since you had a similar experience with how things ended between you and the Raptors in 2004, what advice would you give Dwight about how he should handle the situation going forward?
Vince: It’s a tough situation either way you look at it. He wants to make the best decision for him and that’s fine. I think right now, I think too many people have their hand in to the situation, and I think that’s where the problem lies. And I think Dwight should just take a step back now that he’s out of this season, to really think about what he wants to do. It shouldn’t be friends and the other bodies or representatives. He should sit down with the organization and they should just talk it out. And talk it out meaning say what you have to say, they say what they have to say. And a decision can be made from that. Because I feel like when you get other people involved, words get twisted. And that’s where things tend to go left, if you understand what I’m saying. So if they’re both sitting there, all of the outside speculation doesn’t really matter, because you’ve said it to the player or to the organization, and pretty much cleared the air. So I think that’s what needs to happen.
RaptorBlog(Joseph): Vince, you had a major role in putting the Raptors on the map in the NBA. I’ll never forget as a kid in Toronto, growing up watching the NBA on NBC, that Sunday when the Raptors were going to be on NBC. Hearing that music hit and knowing it was the Raptors who were going to be on, it was surreal to me. And I’m sure it was a big deal to Toronto basketball fans and fans around Canada. In the years since you’ve left, even through some successful seasons, the Raptors have never really grabbed the NBA spotlight like they had when you were here. And there’s this perceived notion out there that Toronto’s like this little team on an island, and even if players have great seasons here, they still can’t get recognition. As someone who never seemed to have a problem getting that recognition while you were here, what are your thoughts on that perception?
Vince: Toronto is one of the best kept secrets, and that was one of the tough things about convincing other players to come play for the Raptors at the time is that they didn’t know. And that was one of the things I was trying to push at the time with the NBA, along with the fans and the organization, help Toronto gain recognition and put us on the map. Let the world see who we are and what we’re about and what the city of Toronto is about. I can speak on behalf of some of my friends, basketball fans, when they come to Toronto, they fall in love with it. They say ‘Oh man, I love Toronto, I love Toronto.’ It’s just that on a national level, it wasn’t known and it didn’t gain that recognition. We had some pretty good teams, but we had to get into the playoffs to be recognized. And it was just tough. And that was one of the things I talked about when people said ‘your team is underrated.’ I used to say ‘hey, give us a shot. Let us put Toronto and Canada on the map. Let us be seen.’ It’s unfortunate. It has happened, but it just hasn’t happened consistently. And I still think the younger players in the league now have no idea how great Canada is.
RaptorBlog(Joseph): Well no one in Canada forgets what you did for the franchise, or your role in the most successful period in franchise history, but there’s still a lot of bitterness from the fans over how things ended, and you still hear the boos when you come here. There is that perception that you could have given more, because of the John Thompson interview. Do you see why some fans see it that way, based on the interview?
Vince: I don’t see it, because the interview was definitely taken out of context. For those people that were sitting in that interview room that day, they’ll tell you the same. I just find it hard to believe that people say I didn’t play hard for the franchise. I loved being there, they gave me my opportunity. That was how my career started. I was able to become Rookie of the Year, I was able to help that franchise win and make it to the playoffs, along with everybody else. I got into the All Star Game, which also helped gain recognition for Toronto, and that’s all I wanted. And that’s everything I put forth to do each and every night, just play the game that I love. So it was unfortunate that the interview turned out like it did. You only saw one side of the story and it was unfortunate that the other side didn’t really come out. People just hear what they hear on the interview and it’s unfortunate, like I said. You know, you just take the hit, and you just keep moving. I know deep down that people really know who I am and what I’m about and my love for the game. And if I didn’t have that love for the game, I wouldn’t be in it this long.
RaptorBlog(Joseph): Do you think if Raptors fans could have seen the interview from your side, the way you intended it to be seen, do you think the reaction would have been a lot different?
Vince: Sure, but you know that’s just the way it goes. I mean even now, some interviews that you do that don’t come off like that, you still say ‘hey, I wanted them to say this or why did they edit out some of this, I thought that was a good line that I said,’ so on and so forth, but you know that’s just editing, that’s just the way it goes. And it was edited that way. And it’s just really nothing I can do. I just hope people forgive and forget and move on. Like I said, of course it’s unfortunate that it happened that way.
RaptorBlog(Joseph): Do you think there will be a time, either when you come back as an opposing player or maybe in retirement, years down the road, where you step out on to that Air Canada Centre floor, and you get an ovation? Do you see Vince Carter ever receiving that in Toronto? Do you even hope for it?
Vince: Yeah, of course you hope for it. You know, that’s where I started. I have so many memories. Like with the questions you’ve asked, it’s brought chills because you just think back to where it started. I was able to play in a time in this city where it was, it wasn’t known, it wasn’t a popular place to be. But at the same time, there was love. When we were able to beat the Knicks for that first playoff win, I recalled making the first basket in the Air Canada Centre. That’s something that I’ll never ever forget. So I do hope for it because every time I walk in there now and I look up there, I just say, ‘Hey man, I made history here.’ You know? I won Rookie of the Year here. I won the slam dunk contest representing Toronto. That’s never been done. I have plenty of memories and you definitely hope for it.
RaptorBlog(Scott): Alright Vince, that was fantastic. Joseph and I both really appreciate you giving us your time.
Vince: Yeah, no problem.
RaptorBlog(Scott): As I said, you’re still a significant figure here, and I think deep down inside, all of us hope that there’s that sort of full reconciliation and that maybe your jersey will be hanging from the rafters of the Air Canada Centre one day.
Vince: Hey, I hope so.
RaptorBlog(Joseph): Thanks a lot, Vince
Vince: Thanks guys. Thanks for your time.
How do y'all feel about this?
This proves that he does not make a team better
Vince is a good guy just never had that "it" factor to be a killer on the court , possibly because he was too nice or some would say soft. You don't know what you got till it's gone and Vince likely realizes he had the potential to be one the 20 greatest players in the game just didn't have mentality or urgency. The Raptors haven't been the same since around the turn of the millenium when they had Vince and McGrady everybody knows it except maybe Vince and maybe Vince was just never as confident in his abilities as he should of been. Still to this day he has the greates in game dunk in the history of televised basketball. Thank you Mr. Weiss for being the best dunk prop ever!
" RaptorBlog(Scott): There’s a lot of speculation from fans and media about your plans beyond this season."
lol, no there isnt.
if Nash and VC teamed up in the backcourt for Toronto. I think the entire country would love to have them in a Raptors uniform. I still wouldn't start VC over DeRozen but it would be great from a fan support view.
i know time heals all wounds, but i cant imagine the raptors would want vince back. He absolutely quit on that team. What he did his last season there was no different then what odom did to the mavs this year. He checked out and i doubt they forgive him for that.
Lol I missed them by a year, lollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
This title would have been a lot better if you had said "...Back to Toronto, eh?"
The what-ifs of the world... What if Vince stayed in Toronto? Would they have a chance of going for a deeper playoff run? Here's my thought on it:
I was a huge Vince Carter fan. If there ever is a second team I'd like to cheer for other than the Chicago Bulls, the Toronto Raptors would be my choice. Vince Carter was their main man. He was their superstar. He put the Raptors in the NBA map. He was compared to Michael during his heydays in Toronto and for a lot of good reasons, too... North Carolina, Nike, Slam Dunk champ and of course, the ability to play through clutch situations, Air Canada=Air Jordan... Vince Carter, to me at that time, was taking the league by storm despite other guys making names for themselves.. In my mind, he and Kobe would make a good comparison for MJ... I envisioned an MVP award if everything went flawless from the Raptors camp. It never happened though and Vince's career, though it was still running with New Jersey, had taken a hit the moment he left Toronto... People questioned his heart, desire and determination... Those were all valid from a fan's perspective... Imagine him having Kobe's drive and competitiveness, wouldn't he be at that level looking at the skills he owned? Certainly... and without a doubt... Instead he grew frustrated, he was discouraged not to mention the adversities and injuries he suffered along the way... With that Kobe mindset, he should have come back better than ever... Instead, he went on a decline and it's really disappointing to look at especially when fans like me had this much of an expectation...
But would you blame Vince if he wanted to leave Toronto? No, because the management hasn't done enough to make their team a better team. Instead, they degraded from the time they made as far as the 2001 East Semis, they weren't able to improve much their rosters when they had the opportunity to do so... Let's look back at some of their choices sduring the VC era shall we?
1999- Jonathan Bender (traded for Antonio Davis)... Bender could have been a good piece to build around Vince but instead they traded him for a veteran center-forward... Don't you think the 5th pick is a bit too high of a value to trade for a role player? I mean, Bender's career never really got off but the team could have made risk of having a Carter-Bender option for the future... The Raptors had 2 lottery picks in which they could have made right (much like MJ being surrounded by Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant (5th and 10th picks in the 1987 draft)). They blew their chances here... Oh by the way, they selected Alek Redojevic as the 12th pick overall... ahead of Ron Artest, Corey Maggette and James Posey...
2000- Morris Peterson, a solid player who was a compliment for Carter by the fact that he was able to take some of the offensive burden from him... In the weakest draft in history, you can't complain...
2001- Michael Bradley --ahead of Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas.. hell, even Brian Scalabrine had a longer career in the NBA..
2002- Kareem Rush, traded him to the Lakers for the draft rights of Chris Jefferies and veteran guard Lindsey Hunter...
2003- In one of the strongest drafts in history, they selected Chris Bosh... who played really well for the Raptors as a rook...It could've been a good tandem for the future, right?
2004- This was the one that pissed me off though... 8th pick wasted on Rafael Araujo... Did they ever think he's going to be a Vlade Divac type of center? He instead became one of the biggest busts in history... Who was still available, you ask? Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, heck, I'd even put JR Smith here... You can't go wrong with those dudes... Instead, Araujo... ehhh...
What is my point? The lack of solid or better supporting casts was a factor as to why VC left... Imagine having an Andre Iguodala next to Carter and Bosh... Gerald Wallace anyone? or Tony Parker?... These were what-ifs that remain unanswered and never will be answered.
Eight long years after the Raptors fans had their hearts broken, I think it is about time to forgive and forget... Toronto will always be one of the best and loyal fans in the NBA and I would love to see them have their own Derrick Rose or Kobe Bryant that would stay with them for a long time... Somebody to represent the way LeBron James represented Cleveland during his first seven years... Will they ever find the one? I don't know but I hope so....
Vince Carter closing out his career in Toronto would be a good storybook ending. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and hope for it... The Raptors are building for the future. They have the young pieces in Ed Davis, DeMar Derozan, Andrea Bargnani to be added by Jonas Valanciunas next season... Where will VC fit in? He could add veteran leadership and experience but the team has plenty of guys that can provide for that as well.. We never say "never" in the NBA... We expect the unexpected and if VC does return, welcome back AIR CANADA, if he doesn't, naming him as the greatest Raptor of all time shouldn't be argued and fans will look back to the things he did to make the Raptors relevant...
Morris Peterson was a great pick for the Raptors. Chris Bosh was also an awesome pick but bigger men take a longer time to develop and VC wanted to win right now. I know everyone is pissed how he left Toronto (comparable to LBJ leaving Cleveland) but it's been 8 years since he left and it's time to forgive and forget. It's in the past and there is nothing you can do about it now. VC made his name in Toronto, he made Toronto an NBA team and the Raptors were the closest to a championship team with him.
Honestly it feels like the Raptors will never reach that level of intensity agian. It feels like nothing goes our way since VC left.
- Rafael Araujo - what was Rob Babcock thinking?
- Villanueva and Joey Graham
- Signing Turkoglu, Fred Jones
Those moves kinda of set back the team bc we ended up trading Turkoglu for Marion which turned out to be O'Neal. There was no stability. BUT the positive thing is that we have solid young players in Valancinuas, DeRozan and Davis. All we need is a defensive PG and maybe VC can come in and mentor the players. OWNERSHIP sucks! All they care about is money and they know fans always show up. We are one of the most passionate fans.
I'm just hoping Valanciunas will save our franchise. Bargnani is looking solid and is playing MUCH better basketball since Casey took over.