There was a time, somewhere around the 2004-2005 season where Vince Carter and Tracy McGr..."/> There was a time, somewhere around the 2004-2005 season where Vince Carter and Tracy McGr..."/>

When Carter and McGrady almost killed basketball in Toronto

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 1: Vince Carter
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 1: Vince Carter /

There was a time, somewhere around the 2004-2005 season where Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady almost killed basketball in Toronto.

Many of us have been in a relationship with somebody who we gave our all too but didn’t get much in return. We gave them our unconditional love and allowed them all the freedom they asked for yet still nothing was ever good enough for them.

Some of us eventually figure it out and realize that you can’t achieve happiness until you get that person out of your life for good.

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Track back to December of 2004 when (then) Raptors GM Rob Babcock traded Vince Carter to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round draft picks.

Carter had spent the better part of the previous year whining and moping around the Air Canada Centre trying to force the Raptors hand. There is a reason why people called him “Wince Carter.”

The situation eventually reached a boiling point where the Raptors had no choice but to finally make a trade.

Once the trade was complete, Mourning refused to report to Toronto and had to be bought out and never played a game for the Raptors. Essentially, the Raptors received six bucks and a bucket of chicken in return for one of the games best players.

A few years earlier we saw a similar routine from Tracy McGrady. The Raptors drafted McGrady right out of high school and allowed him the time to develop but the second he had the chance to leave town, he did. Night in and night out, you would see the 21 year-old McGrady sulking on the Raptors sidelines and making sure everybody in the brand new ACC knew he wasn’t happy.

It was painful to watch at times and you just wanted to shake McGrady to make him realize just how good he had it in Toronto. 

Raptors fans had to deal with being rejected by the likes of McGrady, Carter and then Mourning. It seemed that nobody in the NBA wanted to play in Toronto.

The Raptors fans and organization did everything they could to support the two young superstars. Endorsement deals, marketing slogans and merchandise sales were centred around Carter and McGrady.

They had 50 foot murals of them painted on the side of buildings in downtown Toronto and billboards with their likeness plastered everywhere from Robson Street in Vancouver to Argyle Street in Halifax.

Yet none of it made them happy.

OAKLAND, CA – FEBRUARY 13: Vince Carter
OAKLAND, CA – FEBRUARY 13: Vince Carter /

The other Canadian NBA team in Vancouver had failed and moved to Memphis in 2001 and it looked for a time that the Toronto franchise may have suffered the same fate following the Carter saga.

Big name American stars didn’t want to be here and the ones that came couldn’t wait to get out of town fast enough. It may have stung less had Carter and McGrady bolted for greener pastures with the L.A Lakers or N.Y Knicks but they left for the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets.

It was like finding out your significant other is cheating on you and when you bump into them in a restaurant you realize you were cheated on with somebody far less attractive than you.

Raptors fans across Canada supported Carter and McGrady unconditionally and got nothing in return. The organization fostered an environment that could have led to long term success on the court but they both to opted to leave at the first available chance.

Raptors fans began thinking out loud, “What is wrong with us?”

In the years following, the Raptors struggled to find an identity. The ACC was half-full some nights and the media coverage of the team waned.

The Grizzlies were gone and the Raptors had become the Siberia of the NBA.

There was a time, somewhere around the 2004-2005 season where Carter and McGrady almost killed basketball in Toronto.

It wasn’t until the emergence of guys like Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson shortly thereafter that the Raptors finally began to create their own identity. It took several more years before the city of Toronto and the Raptors finally forged their real identity.

By the year 2013, they had officially become what they are today. The Raptors partnership with Drake has helped foster a culture of glamour and show-time surrounding the Raptors and it has now officially become cool to play for the Toronto Raptors. That notion was unthinkable across the NBA in the early 2000’s.

If Carter and McGrady had stayed put and helped attract one or two more key players it could’ve fast forwarded basketball in Toronto to where it is today and you would’ve seen things like Jurassic Park outside the ACC in 2005 and a fan base that stretches from coast to coast.

Several media outlets have tried to suggest to the people of Toronto that it is time to forgive Carter and he has been applauded in his recent returns to the ACC as an opposing player.

McGrady was front and centre when Toronto hosted the NBA All-Star game in 2016.

Toronto has proven to be a very forgiving city but that doesn’t mean we should open the ACC doors and celebrate Carter and McGrady in the same manner as the Leafs celebrate Doug Gilmour and Darryl Sittler or how the Blue Jays embrace Joe Carter and Dave Stieb.

People get divorced and the issues that led to it often simmer with time. Many people can reach a point where they can communicate with their ex’s and perhaps attend a social function together in a civilized manner for the sake of their children.

However, that doesn’t mean you invite them over on Saturday night for dinner and drinks and throw them a surprise party for their birthday just like the old days.

You move on in life without them.

Carter and McGrady couldn’t wait to leave and in doing so they publicly embarrassed Raptors fans and the city of Toronto.

We’ve created something new and amazing in Toronto and that’s what should be celebrated.

Let a sleeping dog lie.

Next: Top 10 Draft Picks in Raptors history