When the Atlanta Hawks take on the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, it could be the final time that Vince Carter laces them up in front of the Toronto crowd that he called home for the first six and a half seasons of his career.
Originally called the Air Canada Centre, it's the arena where 'Half Man, Half Amazing' came to life. From the time he first stepped foot in the building, Vinsanity breathed new life into a Raptors franchise struggling to find its footing.
Here's a closer look into some of the statistical narratives that defined Carter's time in Toronto.
As popular as Michael Jordan?
Numbers to know:
- 4: times that Vince Carter led all players in All-Star voting
- 3: players in NBA history to lead All-Star voting in three straight years
- 8.5 million: Carter's All-Star votes with the Raptors
The 2000 Slam Dunk contest shed light onto a fact that Raptors fans already knew: Vince Carter was one of the most electrifying dunkers of all-time.
Any conversation involving greatest dunkers must include not only Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and Dominique Wilkins, but also Carter.
MORE: Ranking MJ and Vince's best dunks
It's one of the many reasons why Carter - despite never truly rising to the MVP-type stratosphere of the Kobe's or Iverson's or Shaq's of the world - remained perhaps the game's most popular player during a time when the NBA itself was finding its way in the post-Jordan landscape.
There's no better way of evaluating this than by looking at All-Star voting, in some ways a proxy for measuring popularity.
Beginning in 1999-00 (there was no All-Star game in Carter's rookie season due to the lockout) and extending through the 2003-04 season, Carter amassed over 8.5 million All-Star votes.
8,527,914 to be exact.
That's by far the most by any player during that span, over 1.4 million than anyone else. In fact the gap between Carter and the next-most (Allen Iverson) was larger than that of the gap between the 2nd-most and 6th-most.
When Carter led all players in All-Star voting during his fourth season in 2001-02, he became just the third player in NBA history to do it in three straight seasons, joining Michael Jordan and Julius Erving (aside: LeBron James can join that club this season).
When Carter led all players in voting in 2003-04, the fourth time in five seasons he finished with more votes than anyone else, he again joined Jordan and Erving as the only players to do it that many times, a feat since matched by Kobe Bryant and surpassed by James.
As clutch as Kobe Bryant?
Numbers to know:
- 40%: Vince Carter's clutch-time FG% from 1998-99 through 2003-04
- 40%: Kobe Bryant's clutch-time FG% from 1998-99 through 2003-04
- 38%: Tracy McGrady's clutch-time FG% from 1998-99 through 2003-04
What should carry more weight when evaluating overall merits? One shot? Or 500?
During Vince Carter's time in Toronto, the Raptors reached the playoffs three times and won a single playoff series.
During that same span, Kobe Bryant won three championships and 17 playoff series.
Nobody in their right minds could ever make the argument that Carter was more successful. But what if I told you that Carter was just as clutch?
No way… right?
The most memorable highlight of Carter's postseason runs with the Raptors might actually be a lowlight: missing at the buzzer in Game 7 of the 2001 Conference Semifinals against the 76ers, a shot that would have sent the Raptors to the Conference Finals.
That Carter attended his college graduation in North Carolina on the same day only twists the knife further.
And yet, that single moment carries more weight than it should. Sure, he shot 6-18 in that game. But he also dished out nine assists, five of which came in the fourth quarter including one to Dell Curry who canned a three in the final minute to cut the deficit to one and even make that miss at the buzzer possible.
We don't talk about that. Or about how he scored or assisted on six of Toronto's eight made shots in the fourth quarter. Or about how he shot better that night than Allen Iverson who went 8-27 and won the MVP that season.
Somehow that one miss casts a cloud over a far bigger sample size available over six full seasons spent with the franchise.
If you look at every single shot that Carter took in the final five minutes and the score within five points - all 532 including the regular season and playoffs - you'll find that when the game matters most, he was just as good as Kobe Bryant over that same span, revered by many as one of the all-time great closers.
Sure, comparing Carter's heroics in February games isn't completely fair when Bryant was doing it deep into May and June.
But Carter also didn't have Shaq.
Just know that when you remember Carter's time in Toronto, it's Vinsane to get hung up on one miss when there's far more of a complete picture to take in.
Odds and ends
Some other numbers to know on Vince Carter's connection with the Raptors:
25,000: When the Raptors and Hawks played earlier this season, Carter scored the 25,000th point of his career just before the final buzzer on what else... a dunk.
20: Tuesday marks the 20th game that Carter has played in Toronto as a visitor. He laced up 207 times in Toronto while a member of the Raptors.
9,420: Points scored with the Raptors. When Carter was traded to the Nets in the 2004-05 season, he had over twice as many career points with the Raptors than anyone else. At the time, the next most was 4,448 by Doug Christie
3rd: Carter's current rank on the Raptors' all-time leading scoring list. He was eventually passed by Chris Bosh and DeMar DeRozan.
24.6: Carter's scoring average over his first three seasons. Only seven guards in NBA history have averaged more points per game over their first three seasons. Carter was the most prolific young scoring guard since Michael Jordan who averaged 31.7 over his first three seasons.
22nd: Carter's rank in total win shares during his six full seasons with the Raptors. Players he finished ahead of in that span include Allen Iverson, Steve Nash and Chris Webber.