Those fans who are lucky enough to be attending the first two Raptors playoff games will be happy to learn that the team is giving away red T-shirts for fans to wear during the game. The official shirts will supposedly read “Let’s Go Red. Let’s Go Raptors.” However, a few entrepreneurial fans think that they have a better idea for a T-shirt. These FUVC shirts are just one example of the anti-Vince Carter sentiment that is bound to define this series.
Yes, an outbreak of that bizarre psychological condition known as Vinsanity is once again running through the city. The current strain of this disease is characterized by the irrational hatred of a player who was great for the city while he played here and whose list of crimes include: a) he got injured; b) he was too friendly with players on opposing teams; and c) his mom was bossy.
It should be noted that despite the fact that Vince is lustily booed each time he touches the ball in the ACC, to this day he has never said a negative word about Toronto or the fans here. That takes a lot of class.
The last season that Carter played for the Raptors, there were a few nights when it was clear that he was not giving us his all, and the moment he was traded, his play drastically improved. This is not acceptable behaviour for someone who is earning millions of dollars a year, but it is also not unusual for any player on a highly dysfunctional team to lose heart or concentration and by the time Vince had started to give up on the Raptors, the team’s management had already given him, and the fans, plenty of reason to despair.
For those who have forgotten, here’s a recap: after missing the playoffs two years in a row, first under the somnambulistic coaching of Lenny Wilkens and then under the tyrannical regime of Kevin O’Neill, General Manager Glen Grunwald was fired in 2004. At this time, Vince was given the impression that he would have a part in helping to choose the team’s next GM. Carter’s preferred candidate was Dr. J—Julius Erving—but team ownership refused to interview the Hall-Of-Famer for the job. Instead they hired Rob Babcock, a decision that turned out to be one of the worst in team history. Babcock’s first big move was to waste the eighth pick in the draft on the bone-headed Rafael Araujo, and he followed this by signing the highly unstable point guard Rafer Alston to a big-money five-year-deal. The team was being lead by neophyte coach Sam Mitchell, who, at the time, was doing little to impress anyone with his ability to manage players or draw up plays. In the light of all this, Vince asking to be traded seems like an act of self preservation more than anything else.
But, all of that is well behind us now. This Raptors team had a great season, winning the Altantic Division. Bosh became a franchise player. Sam Mitchell has made a strong case for the Coach of the Year Award and GM Bryan Colangelo brought in nine new players, including this year’s top draft pick, Andrea Bargnani, a player who appears to have a future as a superstar in the league. Now, according to some, a Raptors victory over the Nets will allow fans to finally get over Vince Carter. It’s about time.
Game 1 is Saturday at 12:30 at the ACC. TSN will have the game.
If you are one of those who is not yet over Vince and you want to order one of the above T-shirts, contact [email protected] for details.