Toronto Raptors legend Vince Carter to be inducted to hall of fame

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The man who once was the biggest star in the NBA while wearing a Toronto Raptors uniform is heading to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Vince Carter, Toronto’s career points-per-game leader and an all-star in five of his six full seasons with the Raptors, will be inducted this year along with another former Raptor, Chauncey Billups, The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported on Wednesday.

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The official announcement is expected Saturday at the NCAA’s Final Four.

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Carter was the first Raptor to make the all-NBA team (third team in 1999-2000, second team in 2000-01), made eight all-star appearances, memorably won the 2000 slam dunk contest in an iconic performance and played an NBA-record 22 seasons despite battling injuries early in his career.

Carter was named NBA rookie of the year after bursting onto the scene in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. A franchise coming off a 16-win season that was a total mess was revived by Carter, who nearly instantly became a must-see nightly act at Maple Leaf Gardens, SkyDome and soon, the brand-new Air Canada Centre.

Carter quickly became known as Air Canada for his above-the-rim game and later would add a deadly three-point shot to his jaw-dropping athleticism.

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By his second season, the Raptors were in the playoffs and, by Year 3, they were a Carter missed shot away from the Eastern Conference final.

Of course, a bad breakup followed 20 games into Carter’s seventh season with the Raptors. As injuries mounted and management piled up mistakes, Carter did not look like the same player, averaging only 15.9 points in those final games, compared to 27.5 upon being dealt to the New Jersey Nets in one of the worst trades in NBA history.

Carter never really accepted blame for his role in the debacle and was booed viciously for years by Raptors fans despite all of the love and appreciation he had previously built up.

Eventually things softened and Carter was moved to tears when given a standing ovation in Toronto as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies just shy of a decade after his departure.

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Last February, Carter spoke of his connection with Toronto during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back podcast.

Though the basketball hall doesn’t have plaques with inductees wearing a specific team cap, Carter said if they did honour just one team affiliation, the Raptors would be the obvious choice.

“Toronto, Toronto, Toronto,” Carter said. “I mean, it has to be. It’s where it started. Yes, I had great years in Jersey, but it started there. My confidence and understanding the player that I could be in the league was trending upwards still in Toronto.”

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Carter joins former teammates Tracy McGrady, Hakeem Olajuwon and Chris Bosh as players with Raptors ties inducted into the basketball hall of fame.

Chauncey Billups, who was traded by the Raptors just before the team acquired Carter, will also be inducted this year, according to the report.


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