It'll be 10 years ago in May that the Raptors came within a 20-foot jumper of the Eastern Conference final, and perhaps you'll recall the scene.
Dell Curry threw the inbounds pass. Charles Oakley set the screen. Vince Carter, who caught Curry's feed in the left corner with two seconds left in that memorable Game 7 in Philadelphia, pump-faked, squared and let fly. Then he waited a long beat to see where fate's arc would take him.
"I remember the play like it was yesterday," Curry was saying this week. "Vince had more time than he thought. He had a good pump fake, got (Tyrone Hill) off his feet. But I thought he rushed it just a little bit . . . "
You know too well how it turned out, how the most important shot in the history of the franchise landed long. Still, it's sometimes hard to believe, almost a decade on, that the times never got better for either the Raptors or for the most spectacularly talented player they've ever employed.
Toronto's NBA franchise has only been to the playoffs three times since then, all first-round flameouts, and when they'll return with any hope of winning a series is hard to see. And as for Carter, while it's true only a select few NBA players wouldn't swap his career for theirs — he has earned more than $130 million in pre-tax salary, and he's an eight-time all-star — there will always be a sense that he never truly unlocked his full potential.
Vince Carter's unfulfilled promise
Toronto Star | Feb 25