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Celebrate Vinsanity

Vince Carter on healed relationship with Toronto Raptors fans: 'It's an unbelievable feeling'

Vince Carter was set to retire at the end of the 2019-20 season. He was at peace with the decision after playing 22 seasons in the NBA.

However, with the pause to the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Carter wasn't able to tie a bow on what's been a Hall of Fame-worthy career.

With just 67 games played this season, the Atlanta Hawks could be leaving a few games on the table. One in particular for Carter certainly stands out. The Hawks were supposed to visit the Toronto Raptors on Friday, April 10, 2020. It would've been Carter's final game in the city where it all started.

With the Hawks not participating in the re-start to the NBA season at the end of July, Carter announced his retirement on his podcast 'Winging it' saying: "I am officially done playing basketball professionally."

Carter's relationship with the Raptors and more importantly their fans has been a rocky one, but time heals all wounds and the man they called half man half amazing is grateful the relationship is mended.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," Carter told SI's Chris Mannix, speaking of his healed relationship with Toronto. "It's really impossible to explain.

"But it's refreshing, satisfying and makes the walk out of the door satisfying and peaceful, when that door closes."

Carter fell out of favour with the fanbase in the middle of the 2004-05 season when the disgruntled superstar reportedly lobbied for a trade. His request was met and he was shipped off to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two first-round draft picks - one of which turned into Joey Graham and the other Renaldo Balkman after the future pick was dealt to the New York Knicks in exchange for a 37-year-old Antonio Davis, who came back for his second stint with the Raps.

The trade, which was viewed as lopsided at the time, got worse when Mourning didn't report to the team and was eventually bought out of his contract.

The fan base felt that Carter had turned his back on them and would show up to boo him for years after the trade.

Until finally, years later during the Raptors' 20th anniversary season, the tide changed a bit. The franchise honoured Carter, who was now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, with a video package. For the first time since their messy break-up, Carter received a standing ovation from the Raptor crowd on hand, an emotional moment that brought the former Raptor to tears.

"Just because, like I say, I played the game because I love it," Carter continued. "And I want everyone to understand it, see it and appreciate it.

"I prided myself on it since I walked into this game. Be a good guy, enjoy the game, and just play the game that I love, my way. And that's all I ever wanted to do. And I think people are understanding that now at this age, more than ever, that I just love playing basketball.

"And I want to play basketball. And as a young guy I didn't think about, the impact I would have on people."

Carter's final game in Toronto came on January 28, 2020. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 18 minutes.

His impact on the Raptors and game of basketball in Canada can never be overstated.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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