While Vince Carter played for a total of eight different franchises during his NBA career, basketball fans across Canada will always remember his first seven seasons when the high flying superstar was the face of the Toronto Raptors.
Raptors Fans Share Memories of Vince Carter
NBA Season Suspended Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
Prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, Carter had announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the season. And with the NBA season suspended indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the current Atlanta Hawks’ veteran may have played his last game on March 11th against the New York Knicks.
One of the dates many Raptors fans had circled on the calendar was his final game in Toronto scheduled for April 10th – where the reigning NBA Champions, and their fans, had planned to give him a proper sendoff. But with the league on hiatus, that likely will not happen.
Vince Carter Brought a Buzz and Excitement to Toronto
Raptors’ fans are eager to share fond memories of Carter’s contribution to basketball in the city, and the country.
Today, Marnie Schwartz and her twin sister Rena Schwartz are co-owners of ViBE Dance & Fitness Studio Inc. But during their university days, the York U grads were members of the Toronto Raptors’ Dance Pak. They still remember the excitement Carter brought to basketball fans in the city.
The Schwartz sisters witnessed Carter electrify Raptors’ fans at the ACC or the Air Canada Centre – today, known as the Scotiabank Arena.
“He was good to the fans, always acknowledging them, always supportive of his teammates, and always giving good vibes to the crowd,” recalled Marnie, the elder twin by six minutes.
“It was insane to be court-side witnessing his dunks!”
Inspiring a City and a Country
The documentary – which covers the impact of the eight-time NBA All Star in terms of putting Toronto on the basketball map and raising the popularity of the Raptors and the sport in Canada – premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
“When Vince was poppin’ in the city, we had night clubs that seem larger than life. We had celebrities coming to our city and performing that would’ve never been here before. We had rappers and people from here that were acting like we were in New York,” said Drake following the film’s release in 2017.
Besides winning NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 1999, Carter would win the Slam Dunk competition the following season in impressive fashion at the 2000 NBA All Star weekend.
“(At the time) he created a culture for us that we had only seen on television,” added Drake, who, today, holds the title as the Raptors’ Global Ambassador.
Using his Platform for Good Causes
Given that Carter was one of the most popular NBA superstars back in the early 2000s, Rena Schwartz was pleased to see him use his platform to support charitable causes.
“We fondly remember the Vince Carter Charity All-Star Games he hosted in Toronto in the summer,” she said.
“They were a highlight to the city of Toronto and the Dance Pak performed at them too. It was all in the name of charity and really showed the community that Vince used his platform for good things.”
An Opportunity to Reconnect
The identical twin sisters were happy to catch up with Carter during a pre-game shoot around when he returned to Toronto in 2014 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.
“He finished his drill, then walked towards us and said ‘you are the twins from the Dance Pak.’ We were so touched that he remembered us because our last season was 2002,” recalled Rena Schwartz.
The Schwartz sisters were at the arena rehearsing with a group of young dancers from their dance studio preparing to perform a routine during the game and very grateful to reconnect with the former Raptor superstar.
“We chatted for a few minutes and then told him that we miss him in Toronto. It was like reconnecting with an old friend,” added the younger Schwartz sister.
Only NBA Player to Complete in Four Different Decades
While the reigning NBA champions might not have a chance to pay tribute to Carter this season, at some point when play does resume, it’s safe to say the Raptors and their fans will honor Carter in some way.
Having entered the NBA in 1998 and retiring this season means the 43-year-old is going to enter the history books as the first NBA player to compete in four different decades.
The Schwartz sisters – like many fans – are appreciative of what Carter’s accomplishments have brought to the city of Toronto, and to the country.
“We are so proud of Vince for having a career in the NBA that has spanned over the past four decades. We totally understand his passion because we are actually the same age as Vince and we are still dancing and continue to love it too,” said Rena Schwartz.
“He’s quite the inspiration to basketball players, and truthfully, to all people in general.”