We’ve been going over and over this for the last few years: the Raptors and Vince Carter, linked together forever. What should be done with his legacy? How should Toronto react? Who owes what to whom? Are we just past everything at this point? It still feels like there’s a lot to unpack here. (I even went on the Fan 590 to figure it out — see Jan. 16 [and 17th for John Gaudes!])
It feels strange to focus on this after another cruising 3-0 week for the Raptors, one that saw them move to 20-8 while shoring up their third place in the East bonafides, but here we are. The Raptors played the Kings on Sunday afternoon, and the 40-year-old Carter played (started, in fact) for perhaps the final time in Toronto.
Now, this has been talked about to death. Eric Koreen had a nice piece here about it. Our own John Gaudes tackled the subject here. And there were lots of quotes and emotions floating around out there after Sunday’s contest. I get that — it’s a big subject.
It helps that Carter got the nice ovation as he left the floor for the last time. It was a fitting tribute, and really the only thing left for the crowd to offer him. Carter’s Kings team was on the wrong end of a loss, his career will end in the middle of nowhere, existentially speaking, and all those highlights, a body of work that sustained us for years, are basically all that’s left to show for it. Still, there are worse ends in the NBA.
Standing ovation for Vince Carter as he leaves Toronto floor for what might be the final time pic.twitter.com/ljiCzHxBIa— Pettywise (@World_Wide_Wob) December 17, 2017
So here’s why it’s the fun and good highlight of the week: the spectre of all of this is well and truly done haunting Toronto. All that is left now is for the eventual one-day signing, which should definitely happen, and to retire Carter’s number, which will also happen. He’ll be smiling, we’ll be smiling, and everyone will (or should) be happy about it. We need to embrace this history, learn from it, and then put it to rest.
And you know why? Because the Raptors are successful now (along with being fun and good). They won’t always be successful — we’re already bracing for the post-Lowry era, for example — but they are well-positioned to continue as a rock solid franchise. The original fun and good Raptor, Carter, absolutely helped build that to begin with, but now it has inevitably fallen to this new stock of players, and of course Masai Ujiri (who would have been a great GM to have back when the Raptors were trying to figure out how to keep Carter happy). This is the way of things in the NBA — and life — and we can either be hung up on it forever, or we can embrace it as part of our history.
The what ifs, the regrets, the anger (if it can still be found within), let it all good. The Raptors are fun and good. Carter will be fine. And we’re all better for it.