If you blinked, you might have missed the Rudy Gay era. The talented swingman played just 51 games for the Raptors before being dealt to Sacramento on Dec. 8, less than a year after he was brought over from Memphis.

He returns to town for the first time on Friday. What kind of reception will he receive? Hopefully it won’t be the treatment Toronto faithful have reserved for noted traitors Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh, or for all-world loafers Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu. There’s a lot of blame to be shared for the failed Rudy Gay experiment in Toronto and Gay even needs to accept some of it, but if you’re looking for people to fault over his inconsequential time here, pre-Tim Leiweke Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd. would be must deserving of your scorn.

Of course, fans don’t ever get the opportunity to razz Larry Tanenbaum, Bell chief George Cope, former Rogers boss Nadir Mohamed or other board members, so expect Gay to get an earful.

And that’s too bad. While Gay could have been a better teammate — too often he ignored the other four Raptors on the court, playing a selfish, ineffective brand of basketball and he also could have given a more consistent effort at the defensive end of the floor, given his natural abilities and length — he still played hard and had some moments as a Raptor. The team brought him in to be a star and he acted like one. Should he be reviled for that?

Should Bryan Colangelo take heat for bringing Gay to Toronto? Sure, some. But, he was in the last year of his contract, desperate to make a splash and up the star quotient. And it’s not like he gave up a lot for Gay, aside from financial flexibility. Jose Calderon’s a great guy, but he’s a flawed player, was a soon-to-be free agent and had taken the team as far as it was going to go under his direction. Ed Davis was playing his way into a big raise and the franchise had considerable concerns, many justifiable, about whether he’d be worth the cash given his limited offensive upside and flashy, but not overly effective defensive impact. Also, given up was a second-round pick in the worst draft in years.