There isn’t a more polarizing figure in the history of the Toronto Raptors than Vince Carter.
To some, “Vinsanity” will always be the player who put Toronto on the NBA map — a jaw-dropping talent who brought respect to a then-fledgling organization north of the border.
But to others, Carter will always be the superstar who demanded a trade out of Toronto. The team captain who was reportedly tipping off opponents on the Raptors’ play calls. The guy who chose to attend his graduation in North Carolina on the morning of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Philadelphia (and missed the buzzer-beater that would have sent Toronto to the conference finals).
Ask any particular Raptors fan about the team potentially retiring Vince’s jersey and you’ll quickly find that the debate is very black and white: You either love him or you hate him. It’s a sensitive topic.
But one Raptors fan knows exactly where he stands with the one they call “Half-Man, Half-Amazing.” And we’re not just talking about any Raptors fan here.
Nav Bhatia, affectionately known as the Raptors superfan, hasn’t missed a home game in Toronto in 23 years. He was there in 1995 when the Raptors debuted at the SkyDome, a temporary home while the team awaited the construction of its new digs at the Air Canada Centre. He was there when Damon Stoudamire blossomed into Toronto’s first legitimate star player.
And he was there when Carter’s nightly dunk-a-thons in Toronto became one of the hottest tickets in North America.
There isn’t a Raptors fan who got to know Vince Carter better than Bhatia, and the superfan has no problem sharing how he feels about the man they once called “Air Canada.”
“Let me tell you one thing. We — the Canadians, not just Toronto, Canadians! — owe a lot to VC-15,” Bhatia shared on the latest episode of the Inside the Green Room podcast with Danny Green. “And when I say that, I mean it.
“He brought us to the basketball world, you know? Look at what happened to the Grizzlies. They went away, there’s no Grizzlies in Vancouver now. We lasted here because Vince was here at the right time for us. We were getting sponsorships, we were selling tickets, and he was an amazing player.”
But it wasn’t just Carter’s incredible talent, and everything that it did for the Raptors organization, that impressed Bhatia.
“Let me just say here, I don’t just like Vince because he could dunk. He was ‘Half-Man, Half-Amazing,’ no, not because of that. Vince Carter — I’m going to let you know, and everyone know — that VC was very good at heart and he was very good with the kids. And that’s a very important part in my life. That these athletes who are blessed, they’re specially blessed people, and they should share their blessings with the kids.”
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