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Vince Carter was on top of the basketball world in the early 2000’s. The best dunker in the world, one of the most exciting players in the game, clean-cut and marketable, Carter had become a household name all over the world. Then a member of the Toronto Raptors, Carter helped put Canadian basketball on the map more than anyone at that time.
It was one of the league’s best stories. But in 2004 it came crashing down. About six years into his career with the Raptors Carter grew frustrated after the Raps didn’t reach the playoffs again and things turned nasty when the front office decided they were going to rebuild. V.C. was one of the best players in the league at this time and felt like he needed to be with a contender. He was traded to New Jersey in December of 2004 and the city of Toronto turned on him hard, labelling him a quitter, cancer and many other nasty things.
Carter got the trade he wanted and boy was he rejuvenated. Paired with Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, Carter was playing the best basketball of his career and was once again considered one of the game’s best players. It was a slap in Toronto’s face and they felt that he had given up on the team and the city. The Raptors were struggling to get any wins, or sell tickets at this point but they packed the house and boo’d the hell out of Vince in his first game back in 2005 (39 points).
After that trade, Vince got booed and trashed by the Raptors fans in all of his returns for the literally the next decade and he killed them pretty much every time. As crazy as it sounds, it’s almost like Carter was trolling the Raps by playing up to his full potential every time he went up against them.
His most memorable performance came in his second game back in Toronto. The sold-out crowd was fired up on a Sunday afternoon and Vince looked amped up in the warm-ups. The Raptors squad was struggling mightily that year but they woke up for this one and took it to the Nets. This is probably the loudest the boo’s were for Carter of any of his returns, they gave it to him every time he touched the ball, but he responded by doing it all.
With the Raps leading in the fourth, Carter turned it up to another level going for 24 points and hitting some cold-blooded shots in the clutch. One of the biggest shots of his career came in this game as he nailed a DEEP game-winning 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. That was his 42nd point on the night. It felt like a movie. That moment was heartbreaking as ever for any Raptors fan, but it was one of the greatest of Vince’s career and it meant a lot to him.
The shot, the celebration, the walk-off, everything about this is epic. This video above highlights the once in a generation gift Carter had as well as any of his classic dunk videos. This guy was insanely talented and his game had so much charisma and swagger.
A legendary performance by a legendary player.