Raptors Gave Vince Carter Hero Status On Tuesday With A Touching Tribute (PHOTOS)
What a way to honour one of Toronto's greats. Just a few days after his 43rd birthday, a Vince Carter Raptors tribute saw the NBA vet recognized for his successes with the franchise. The Raps faced off against Vinsanity's Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, February 29 on one of their retro nights and it was just so fitting.
Before the game, an emotional video montage showed off Carter's greatest moments in the 6ix.
Vince appeared visibly tearful after the tribute, acknowledging the crowd's warm welcome back.
The first NBA player to be active in four different decades, Vince was named an eight-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and 2000 Dunk Contest Champion while playing with the Raptors, according to ESPN.
For some years, though, Carter's return to Toronto would be greeted with a muted reception, sometimes even hostility.
In recent years, though, that public opinion has seemed to warm. This time around, things appeared to be different.
And before the game on Tuesday night, Carter was asked if he has gotten used to getting a warm reception in Toronto.
"No... (shrug)... yes... yes! It's a cool feeling. Thanks to a lot of people. It's a great feeling, it really is," he said, per Yahoo Sports Canada.
"I was trying to save it all (the emotion) for next time. The next time's the final time, you know," he added, alluding to the fact he has one more game in Toronto set before he finally retires.
The Raptors often honour Carter when he returns to the 6ix.
But TSN's Kayla Grey tweeted to remember a time when fans would boo Carter when he returned to Toronto in years past.
"Vince Carter would get booed for years when he would return here. Fans have come around over time of course but tonight, the energy is different," Grey wrote.
"The level of appreciation for his contribution is on a different level — but more importantly, the sense of urgency to let him know."
As for that "sense of urgency," it's probably not too much of a stretch to suggest it had something to do with this week's tragic events.
Toronto was also honouring Kobe Bryant on Tuesday, after the death of the LA Lakers legend and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
Kobe and Vince had known each other since they were teens and battled during their prime in the NBA.
In fact, Carter has been playing pro for so long, the Raptors' retro jerseys on Tuesday night weren't so retro to him. Vince played in those jerseys when they were OG.
Meanwhile, Tuesday was also special for Kyle Lowry as he became the Raptors all-time assist leader.
For Carter, though, it was a homecoming of sorts.
The Atlanta Hawks are set to face off against the Raptors with Carter on their roster for the last time on April 10, 2020.
We can only imagine how that night is going to play out.