Was Vince Carter more of a hero or villain for Toronto Raptors fans?

TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Former Toronto Raptors player Vince Carter (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Former Toronto Raptors player Vince Carter (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors (Photo by Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

The verdict

The years of healing, coupled with the franchise’s newfound success, have helped Raptors fans to forgive Carter. So, too, do the good memories.

Among most NBA fans, Carter is best known for being the greatest dunker ever, for his 50-point games, his highlight plays and incredible acrobatics that made the Raptors one of the hottest tickets in town once or twice a year. Most don’t think about Carter’s exit nearly as much as Raptors fans might.

In the 2019-20 season, which will almost certainly be Carter’s last, he will break the record for the longest NBA career. Carter made eight All-Star appearances; five of those were with Toronto. For someone with such a long and illustrious career, Carter only one time made it further in the playoffs than Toronto’s 2001 second-round exit. The greatest moments of Carter’s career happened with the Raptors. He was young and immature when he made the trade request. If he had a chance to go back in time, perhaps Carter would’ve done things differently.

Still: Carter’s recent attempts at revisionist history have left a bad final impression on Raptors fans who lived through the saga.

In January, before Carter played his lone game in Toronto for the 2018-19 season, Sean Fitz-Gerald of The Athletic asked Carter about his divisive hero/villain status among Raptors fans. This was his response:

"I’m aware of it. I don’t understand it, but I’m aware of it. I mean, they act like I walked out the door and left the team no choice. I was traded. But I am aware of it."

He then doubled down on that statement, saying, “To this day, I just don’t feel like I could have the power to sway a team either way – to move me, or keep me.”

Carter’s words are practically an insult to the intelligence of Raptor fans. He knows very well that, semantics aside, he effectively did leave the team with no choice but to trade him. As much as everyone should be over it, 15 years later, Carter’s pettiness in his departure still hangs over his time with the team.

Carter remains not only a Raptor villain, but arguably the greatest villain the Raptors have ever had. He had plenty of heroic moments in Toronto, and his current standing doesn’t mean one can’t appreciate his contributions to the city and to basketball’s growth across Canada. In fact, it doesn’t make him any less of a Toronto sports icon.

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But as great as Carter was, he never quite succeeded as a hero. If he’d been the right man for that part, his shot to beat the buzzer in Game 7 against Philadelphia would’ve bounced in.

Carter was perfectly cast in his role as the bad guy. After all, the most compelling villains have a great backstory.