Should Carter have his Number Retired by the Raptors?
Only one day after we watched DeMar DeRozan break the Toronto Raptor’s all-time scoring record, we take a look at another Raptor great. Vince Carter, probably one of the most iconic American athletes to ever play on Canadian soil, also just happens to be the greatest Raptor of all time, or at least that is what plenty basketball aficionados would not hesitate to say.
And really, Carter has a massive legacy that he has left behind in Toronto. In a country obsessed with hockey, his high-flying and electrifying athleticism brought many eyes to basketball, inspiring an entire nation to fall in love with the Raptors. Ask Andrew Wiggins, Cory Joseph, or Tristan Thompson, they will tell you that they fell in love with the game because of watching ‘Air Canada’ Carter soaring under the bright NBA lights.
‘Vinsanity’ played his first seven seasons in Toronto, leaving behind many good memories, but at the same time, many poor ones as well, some that left a sour taste in the mouthes of Raptors fan around the country. But its been over a decade since Vince Carter has left Toronto for greener pastures. He has aged and he has matured from the young and athletic enigma that he once was to a shabby veteran who understands his role and adjusted his game to fit a 39-year old professional basketball player, looking to ride out of the game on his own terms.
In his seven seasons donning Raptor colours, Carter averaged 23.4-points per game, making the All-Star team five times, leading the Raptors to two playoff appearances. The second of the two saw the Raptors losing in a Game 7 heartbreaker, when Carter missed a corner three at the buzzer, allowing the Philadelphia 76ers to advance to the Conference Finals and eventually to the NBA Finals.
Now the question stands. With all of his accolades as a Raptor, should the organization and fanbase look passed his ugly departure and retire the number of the greatest player in team history?
To answer the question, let’s first try to understand the main purpose of retiring one’s number. There is more than just stats that go into jersey retirement. Impact, character, legacy, and a whole batch of other things go into the decision.
Now while stats and accolades wise, you cannot dispute that Carter was well deserving of the gesture, his character was well the trouble started. When retiring a number, that number represents not only the great player that it’s owner was, but how he represented the franchise. His values must be in line with those of the organization and when people look up at the rafter, free agents, new players and fans alike, they must understand that these legends set the standard for everyone who would follow.
Ultimately, that is the most important aspect of honouring a player. Did the player represent the franchise like a true great. Carter did not.
Clashes with coaches and organization. Bringing unnecessary media attention to the team, faking injuries, and ultimately not playing to his full potential will be what the history book say about Vince Carter. With a six-year, $96-million shiny new contract, Carter did not honour the full deal, pushing the organization’s buttons to eventually trading him in one of the more lopsided deals in NBA history.
In his defense, the organization did not have much of a direction in his time, but that should not have stopped Carter from fulfilling his duties on the basketball court.
Rookie sensation, slam dunk champion, superstar to villain. Maybe now as a mature veteran Carter regrets how he ended things in Toronto. But acts come with consequences and Carter must accept them. The organization should place its values above all else.
Raptors should do themselves a favour and just wait for DeRozan’s jersey retirement. Even Chris Bosh would be a fitting option. Or Morris Peterson. There are plenty of option without touching Carter’s name.