10 Toronto Raptors who turned their back on the franchise

Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, Toronto Raptors
Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, Toronto Raptors / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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No. 1: Vince Carter

Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors to a championship. Kyle Lowry's longevity likely makes him the best player in franchise history. DeMar DeRozan and Chris Bosh reached high individual heights. Yet no player in the history of the Raptors reached the same peak as Vince Carter.

One of the best athletes in NBA history, Vince Carter was unstoppable from the moment he stepped on an NBA court. He received MVP votes as a rookie, one of the last players to do so, and averaged 25.7 points per game in his second season. He made six-straight All-Star games (there was no All-Star Game his rookie season), led the Raptors to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and averaged 23.4 points per game, the most of any player who played multiple seasons for Toronto.

What's more, Carter wasn't just a star for the Raptors; he was one of the league's most marketable stars, period. His Dunk Contest explosions and in-game detonations made him an easy fan favorite, and he was a nightly part of highlight packages. He also starred for Team USA, famously destroying an opposing player by leaping clear over his head en route to a thunderous dunk.

It was a glorious partnership...until it wasn't. Things got ugly fast between Carter and the Raptors organization. There were public comments, private outrage, and even allegations that he was tipping endgame plays to opponents to sabotage his team's success.

It reached a breaking point when Carter told the Toronto Star newspaper that he wanted to be traded, even posting a letter to his website that he wasn't going to stick around while the team rebuilt. The Raptors blustered like they were going to force Carter to stay, but in the end, the star player got his way, as they almost always do. Early in the 2004-05 season, the Raptors traded Carter to the New Jersey Nets, then pivoted to rebuilding around rookie Chris Bosh.

Vinsanity was a cultural phenomenon and the best player that the Raptors had ever seen to that point. Rather than try to build them up, Carter forced his way out of Toronto and sought out success elsewhere, turning his back on a franchise that absolutely adored him. His messy departure is the most painful desertion in franchise history and tops our list of Raptors who turned their backs on the team.

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