Posts Tagged ‘Masai Uriji’

 Vince Carter #15
 

With Hollywood power players descending on Toronto for the city’s annual film festival, one documentary of local interest has been “The Carter Effect”, chronicling Vince Carter‘s impact more than a decade ago on the Raptors franchise and basketball in Canada.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri attended the premiere Saturday, and during a Q&A alongside the film’s producers, offered a somewhat unclear statement. “Vince Carter will be home in Toronto,” Ujiri said, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.

Carter signed with the Sacramento Kings as a free agent in July. There’s been speculation for a few years now that the Raptors could have an interest in bringing the onetime face of the franchise back, but it hasn’t happened – even though Carter could have filled a Toronto roster need this summer.

Turning 41 in January, time is running out on the playing career of the man once known as “Air Canada”, who since carved out a niche as an effective role player after his superstar days ended.

It’s quite possible, however, that Ujiri was also hinting at the chances of the Raptors organization one day retiring Carter’s number. While some Toronto fans still hold the circumstances around his controversial 2004 trade against him, there’s little doubt about Carter’s impact on the NBA in Canada.

Though his peak playing performance with the Raptors only lasted from 1999 to 2001, the Floridian was also responsible for capturing the hearts and minds of a generation of young Canadian basketball enthusiasts. Toronto NBA products such as Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, and Andrew Wiggins have all pointed to Carter’s presence during their childhoods as some level of inspiration.

The Raptors have retired no player numbers in their 22-year history. Carter wore No. 15 with the team from 1998-2004.

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Rest easy, Toronto Raptors fans, because team president Masai Ujiri intends to be with the franchise for a long, long time.

“I’m a Toronto Raptor, and I’m hoping to be a Toronto Raptor for life, whether you guys like it or not,” Ujiri said Friday in a news conference to reintroduce Serge Ibaka.

The New York Knicks were reportedly confident that they could lure Ujiri away from the Raptors to serve as their replacement for Phil Jackson in their front office. With former Raptors executive Tim Leiweke now with the Knicks in an advisory role to general manager Steve Mills, there was certainly reason to worry that he would consider a move.

Ujiri did, however, just recently sign a multi-year extension with the Raptors in 2016, so even if he wanted out (which it doesn’t sound like he does), Toronto would have sought compensation for his services.

The Raptors have yet miss the postseason since Ujiri came aboard in 2013, advancing as far as the Eastern Conference finals in 2016 and taking two games from the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers.