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SIMMONS: Vince Carter tells all kind of stories, some are even true

According to Vince Carter, his most recent version of why he was jettisoned from the Raptors in 2005 was all about the team wanting Chris Bosh as its star and not about his own hijinks, which included a graduation sidetrip the same day as Game 7 against the Sixers.   
According to Vince Carter, his most recent version of why he was jettisoned from the Raptors in 2005 was all about the team wanting Chris Bosh as its star and not about his own hijinks, which included a graduation sidetrip the same day as Game 7 against the Sixers.  

The contradictions of Vince Carter are varied and many and often they grow over time.

The way Pinocchio’s nose tended to grow.

Ask Carter the same question on Monday and Tuesday and the answers could well be as different as the days. Ask him again on Thursday, you’re likely to get same story, different version.

And now, as the NBA waits to return this summer, as Carter’s career is at an end after 24 years and his time in Toronto seems so very long ago — even longer considering the Raptors’ NBA championship last June — the celebration of Vinsanity’s wonderful career has been rampant.

His story was told by E60 , the fine ESPN show, the feature done by Jeremy Schaap, one of the best in the business. Carter appeared not long after that on the Say What You Need To Say podcast, hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson. He was open and relaxed and told stories. Some of them true. Some only partially true. Some of them his truth. Some basically false.

In his conversation with Barnes and Jackson, he all but twisted how his time with the Raptors came to an end in 2005. He didn’t say anything about quitting on the team, something he admitted to legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson many years ago. He didn’t say anything about asking to be traded. He basically blamed his departure from Toronto on the notion that the Raptors wanted Chris Bosh to be the star of the team.

Carter was already the star of the team. The Raptors drafted a skinny, gangly Bosh, hoping he would be a complementary player at the time. It took Bosh some time to grow into himself. No one at the time was saying the team was being built around Bosh.

But Carter is saying that now.

“Chris Bosh came in and things start to change,” said Carter. “They wanted Chris to be the franchise player. It’s a business. I get it …

“My whole things was, if you want to move to Chris Bosh being the guy, that’s fine. If you don’t want me here, move me. And it just became an ugly situation. Get rid of the problem if I’m the problem. They made it look like I don’t want to be here.”

Carter also told two different versions of the famous Game 7 college graduation shot he took against the Philadelphia 76ers. His shot, unlike the game-changer made by Kawhi Leonard last year, hit the rim, bounced up, and didn’t bounce in his favour.

In one interview, Carter admitted his legs were tired for Game 7 after flying to North Carolina that morning. In another, he said that the media said his legs were tired.

Carter said he played well in Game 7. He averaged 30 points in the first six games of the series, shooting 49% from the field. In Game 7, he was 6-for-18, 33% shooting, 0-for-3 from three against the Sixers. That, he said, was playing well.

The truth, forever pliable, according to Vince.

That was the last playoff game Carter played for Toronto and one of the oddities of his NBA career was how few times he either played or mattered in the playoffs: He played 24 NBA seasons and in a league where making the playoffs is basically assumed, he missed the post-season 13 different times, starting just 66 games.

Those who say Carter made the Raptors in the early years are only partially correct. After the Game 7 shot on graduation day — and to this day, I wonder: Why not graduate in the summer or the fall, rather than on the morning of Game 7, traveling in Larry Tanenbaum’s plane. That question has rarely been asked — the Raptors went 15 years before winning a playoff round. So whatever Carter may have built in his time in Toronto — the growth of Canadian basketball not withstanding — the reality grows more sentimental over time.

Carter became an enemy of sorts when he was dealt to New Jersey. He could have been, or should have been, one of the great, great athletes in Toronto and Canadian history. He should have been a figure for the ages.

On most of his returns to Toronto, he was vigorously booed as an out-of-town player. That went on for years. It wasn’t until the Raptors chose to honour Carter with a video tribute in 2014, while playing for Memphis, that everything changed. It started with a standing ovation. Now, some want to build statues of him and want his jersey up in the rafters at Scotiabank Arena.

And if there’s a section to honour players who quit on their teams and left them in disrepair, I’m all in favour of it.

“I took lumps for nine to 10 years,” said Carter on the podcast, talking about the media and fans.

“I thought: One of these days, people will understand how it took place … They said he doesn’t love the game. You’re telling me that. That’s the one thing I can’t handle.”

From his relationship with cousin Tracy McGrady, his rise and fall in Toronto, his mom’s interference with the Raptors, Carter blames the media for fudging the truth.

And this is perfect Carter. What does he want to do now that his career is over? He wants to work in the media.

ssimmons@postmedia.com

twitter.com/simmonssteve

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