What could have been if Vince Carter made a homecoming in the 2018-2019 Toronto Raptors and ultimately won a championship with them?
It would have been possible if these confessed plans of Kyle Lowry had materialized into a heartwarming reality.
“I don’t know if anybody knew this,” Lowry said on the “VC Show with Vince Carter” podcast (h/t Toronto Star’s Justin Wirlies). “But I tried to get Vince back with us (Raptors) at one point. I wanted Vince. I was trying.”
Following the acquisition of superstar Kawhi Leonard in a shocker trade that sent DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs, the Raptors went locked in and were on a mission to chase their maiden title.
Behind an all-time postseason heroics of Leonard, inspiring leadership of Lowry, the blossoming of both Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, as well as the defensive anchoring from Marc Gasol, the Raps charged into the 2019 NBA Finals and went on to claw the first championship in their franchise history over the Golden State Warriors.
Then 40-year-old Carter was initially part of the murmurs that time as a potential veteran piece to acquire for their roster heading into the postseason. Ultimately, it didn’t pan out.
But as Lowry claimed, the former franchise legend was very much interested in the idea of igniting a reunion in that given special way.
“I was like one of the biggest advocates to try to get him back into Toronto,” Lowry added. “Vince was all-in. So you people who didn’t think Vince wasn’t all-in coming back to Toronto? It’s bogus.”
Before the Raptors have finally emerged into relevance, it was Vince Carter who inspired Canadian young hoopers, and placed the franchise and the entire city of Toronto on the basketball map.
Using his extraordinary athleticism, offensive star power, and jaw-dropping highlight-reel slam dunks, Carter electrified the North in the early 2000s, leading them to three-straight postseason appearances from 1999 to 2002.
But due to front office dispute and being misled on the team’s competitive direction, Carter requested for a trade and was shipped to the New Jersey Nets in 2004. Since then, both the future hall of famer and the Raptors fans have endured a hostile relationship with each other throughout the years.
But it was in 2014 that wounds may have healed, when they played a video tribute on their home turf to acknowledge Carter’s contribution for their 20th season of existence within the association. Fans initially booed, but eventually turned things around to express their appreciation towards the man they called ‘Air Canada’, which made Carter deeply emotional.
From the following years, the Toronto crowd inside the Raptors arena has delivered standing ovations to pay their respect and admiration on Carter’s resonating impacts.
Winning that elusive ring with the Raptors would have been a fairytale ending for Carter to finally close the book on his fabled career. Though things didn’t go well according to fantasies, his effect in Toronto basketball will remain real and forever etched in history.