The argument for another trade as the franchise's "Best Trade Ever..."
Antonio Davis had one All-Star appearance for the Toronto Raptors.
Vince Carter had five...
...and in six full Raptors' seasons at that.
Allow me to disagree with my compatriot Scott a bit here, and suggest the proper alternative to his Best Trade Ever Post from yesterday.
It has to be Vince Carter's draft day acquisition.
Scott's argument was that swapping a draft pick (which became Jonathan Bender) for Antonio Davis was the greatest trade in team history, because Carter could have been selected by the Raps instead of Jamison. Essentially the Raptors wanted Carter anyways but knowing that Golden State wanted Jamison, they saw a chance to get a little extra (in this case, cash) for taking Jamison early, and swapping players.
And he's probably right.
Only I don't think Glen Grunwald has ever actually stated that their intent was to take Carter all along, and really, a trade's a trade and to me, there's none bigger in Dino lore.
Sure, the addition of Antonio Davis helped solidify the frontcourt of an already talented roster, but that roster was going nowhere without Mr. Carter, and Mr. Carter wouldn't have ever worn the vaunted purple and silver if not for that franchise-changing draft day deal of June 24, 1998.
Franchise-changing you say?
Well prior to Carter's rookie season, the team had a record of 67 and 179, good for a winning percentage of 27 per cent.
With Carter in tow?
47 per cent, not to mention the club's best run of playoff success, coming a missed Carter jumper from the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals in the 2000-2001 season. (And ostensibly the NBA Finals considering the team they lost to, Philadelphia, made it all the way there.)
Really though, Carter's impact on the franchise was much more profound than simply wins and losses.
This is the player who not only put the Raptors on the NBA map, but also was one of the more exciting and popular draws during the late 90's early 2000's, packing arenas and spawning nicknames like "Air Canada" and "Half Man, Half Amazing." The Raptors' run of US TV appearances coincided with his rise to fame, and who could forget Carter's epic Slam Dunk Contest Performance at NBA All-Star Weekend 2000?
(In fact just looking up the above clip on Youtube caused me to miss my morning post deadline, because I spent 30 minutes getting lost in old footage of Carter's dunks.)
In fact, when you think about it, the fate of this franchise has really been tied to two players over the past 18 seasons; Chris Bosh, and Carter. If you were to graph the team in terms of win percentage, its peaks were at the height of the Carter and Bosh eras, and the lows...well...that was either in the rookie stages of both these players development curve, or when both were absent, the club instead relying on the likes of Oliver Miller and Andrea Bargnani. (In fact, pretty sure Carter shows up again if/when we do a #WorstTradeEver piece.)
However Bosh never had the same impact as Carter on a worldwide stage, and more importantly, wasn't acquired via trade.
Carter wasn't simply a marquee player in the league. At one point there was discussion as to who was a superior player, Vince Carter or Kobe Bryant, a dialogue that seems ludicrous in the light of the present day, but that goes to show just how revered Carter was early in his Dino-years.
Without the Carter trade, maybe Toronto would have drafted him anyways but who knows, maybe the club would have grabbed the more highly regarded North Carolina prospect, Jamison, or perhaps another prospect like point guard Jason Williams?
There's a healthy dose of revisionist history to chew on if we go down that path so let's simply judge this "Best Trade Ever" question on what we know; the Raptors dealt Jamison for Carter, who went on to become the most influential player in Raptors' history, and one of the most influential in NBA history as well.
Don't think the latter applies?
Maybe tell that to the Raptors' recent second-round draft pick Tomislav Zubcic, who I spoke to via Skype last weekend.
His favourite team growing up in Croatia was none other than the Raptors thanks to yep, you guessed it, Mr. Carter.