When the Toronto Raptors traded Vince Carter to the then-New Jersey Nets in 2004, the feelings between both he, the Raptors and Toronto fans were quite raw. After all, Carter was the Raptors' most popular and perhaps most successful player at the time, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1998-99, making five All-Star teams and leading the team on some playoff runs.
Last year, Carter spoke with NBA TV's Steve Smith about his exit from Toronto in '04 and the events that led up to it. That interview came two years after the Raptors honored Carter -- then with the Memphis Grizzlies -- for his Toronto days with a video tribute. All of this is to say that Carter -- who is now on the Sacramento Kings -- and the Raptors, to most NBA observers, seem to be mending fences.
In an interview with The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears, Carter says he's hoping the Raptors will one day retire his jersey:
Of course, I’d like for [the Raptors] to retire my jersey. You’d always like your jersey retired. That is where it’s started. There have been talks about it. People talk about it, and I’m very thankful for it. But for me, I try my best not to think about it because I am still of service in this league. At the end of the day, every player’s end result is to see their jersey hanging in the rafters somewhere. That is where it started. Hopefully I will get that opportunity.
Additionally, Carter spoke about what it can be like to face your old team, as he and his Kings hosted former Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 26:
One thing that was interesting to see was watching [Cousins] control himself. There were a couple situations where there were fouls or whatever the case may be, and he refrained from [emotion]. He showed his growth and he’s a special player, plain and simple. He showed it that night with 41 and 23, which speaks for itself. If he didn’t know that he was loved here before, he definitely does now.
The first time back for me [to Toronto] was tough because the situation was different for me. [Cousins] walked into a room of cheers. I didn’t. It was tough, but at the same time it ignited a fire and I went out there and played well. Every player will say that going back to one of your old stops, you want to play well. It’s nothing different than any other player. It was a different situation for me, but it always is great to go back [to Toronto] and great to play there every time you step on the [Air Canada Centre] property where it’s in the hallways, in the locker room and obviously on the court. Seeing the people that still work there always brings back fond memories.
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