"I was hyped," DeRozan said. "This place is going to be rocking with Vince back in here and going up against a good team. I was real hyped, so today I'll get the same opportunity."
DeRozan ensured his first encounter with VC would have more than just that regular-season game feel when he tweeted on draft night: "Toronto here I come. Air Canadas back."
Air Canada of course was the monicker Carter went by when he wore a Raptors uniform. And while DeRozan has some Vince-like qualities to his game, he remains a work in progress.
DeRozan and Carter have met previously. That happened two years back at the Jordan Brand Classic where DeRozan, a high school senior, was playing and Carter had a courtside seat. Carter had heard of the youngster's dunking abilities and wanted him to put on a show. DeRozan complied.
Carter also grew increasingly disenchanted with an organization that had begun distancing itself from its superstar. When the team selected the overmatched Rob Babcock to replace Glen Grunwald as general manager over Carter's choice, Julius Erving, took away his mother's parking spot at the ACC and hired Sam Mitchell as head coach, Carter began to pout and play an uninspired brand of basketball.
Hearing more and more boos from the home fans and playing in a bizarre system under Mitchell that saw him touch the ball about half as much as he was used to, Carter slumped, sulked and took on a surly tone with the media — one which included his infamous statement that he didn't want to dunk anymore.
The 6-7 record the Raptors take into today's game may not be what Bryan Colangelo had hoped for, but the man who overhauled the roster is far from discouraged at this point of the season.
"We've got talent and they've played really solid basketball at times and there's some good signs," Colangelo said recently. "But winning basketball teams do it consistently. That's what we're aiming for right now.
"Nobody's happy with where we are record-wise, but it's not altogether unexpected given some of the hurdles we've had to jump over early in the season, whether it was some of the injuries we've been dealing with, or the schedule.
"Offensively, we've rated very good and defensively we've rated very poorly. There have been portions of games where we've played very good defence and it's evident that we have the ability to play solid defence but it's just not happening consistently enough.
So understand that on Sunday, when the 20-year-old DeRozan and the Raptors play host to the 32-year-old Carter and the Orlando Magic, the youngster will officially be making the transition from fan to foe. And he won't be making it meekly.
DeRozan has positioned himself as Carter's second coming; on the June night he was drafted by the Raptors, he also logged into his Twitter account to announce the return of "Air Canada" to Toronto. The gravity of the matchup isn't lost on those involved.
"I think it's good for (DeRozan). That's what the league is about. If you want to grow up and play well, these are the times that make you who you are," said Chris Bosh, the only man on the Raptors roster who once called Carter a teammate in Toronto.
Tomorrow's matinee game with the Toronto Raptors will be an excellent test for Orlando's defense, for the simple fact that Toronto leads the NBA in offensive efficiency (115.2 points per 100 possessions). The Raptors were able to drop 116 points on the Magic – granted, without Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, and Mickael Pietrus – in their previous meeting on November 1st, so it'll be interesting to see if Orlando will be able to slow down a potent Toronto offense this time around. If last night's game against the Boston Celtics was any indication, the Magic appear to be fit and ready for the challenge.
And if one wants to see how NOT to play defense, keep a close eye on the Raptors (last in defensive efficiency, at 116.4 points per 100 possessions) – a team, as John Hollinger of ESPN Insider notes, "is on pace to rank among the worst defenses in NBA history."
Every time a new player on the opposing team has a career or a stat filled night, it's generally the point guard of that team against the Raptors.
It's PLAIN & SIMPLE.
Jose at best is a $10 million backup point guard. He's not starter material. Jack Armstrong must be smoking something lethal if he truly believes Jose is a top 10 PG in this league.
Currently the Raptors are a below .500 team, with a record of 6-7. They got blown out by teams that they should have beaten and a majority of the games that they have won were thanks to Chris Bosh—hands down the best player on this team by a long shot. Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu are good players that are still learning the ropes, but Jose—simply atrocious.
This is a question that's been on the minds of a lot of Orlando Magic fans, and we're going to look at it again today as the team faces Turkoglu's new club, the Toronto Raptors.
What do you think?
MAGIC UPDATE: Orlando won its fourth consecutive game Friday night, beating the Celtics in Boston. The Magic conclude their two-game trip, looking to improve their road record to 5-2…The Magic were 9-4 after 13 games last season en route to 59s. . . SG Vince Carter, who scored 26 points against the Celtics, returns to the place where he started his career. It will be his first game back to play as a member of the Magic. He was unavailable (sprained ankle) in Orlando's 125-116 victory at Toronto on Nov. 1 as were Rashard Lewis (suspension) and Mickael Pietrus (flu-like symptoms). … J.J. Redick scored a career-high 27 points filling in for Carter.
Let’s also face facts here…Vince put the Raptors on the map. He was the first superstar on the team (the only besides Bosh?) and he had all of Toronto and the NBA world entranced. Remember the Kobe for Vince trade rumours? Or the Vince could be the next Jordan talk?
I don’t think it is too far fetched to say that the Raptors might not even be around if it wasn’t for Vince. He sold tickets and helped the Raptor’s win. The Grizzlies had similar attendance to the pre-Vince Raptor’s and the NBA didn’t waste time by snatching them from Canada and putting them in Memphis (horrible knee jerk mistake by the NBA btw).
If you are a raptors fan you have both loved and hated Vince Carter. I think now that we look back at 15 years in the league, it is time to let it go. Let’s honor the man who played as big a part as anyone in those 15 years.
On Sunday when Vince is announced…pretend it is the 2001 playoffs and Vince hit that final shot in Philly.
"I would have been almost halfway through my season in college already," DeRozan said with a tired smile. "I'm still getting used to traveling a lot more, everyday, in and out of different cities."
Going into play Saturday, DeRozan had started all 13 games for Toronto. While he has had some explosive moments, DeRozan's early-season numbers have been rather modest.
"I'm still adjusting," he said. "I'm concentrating on asserting myself on the defensive end. I feel like I'm nowhere close to reaching my potential. I've got a lot more room to improve."
As part of that quest to improve, DeRozan has spent time continuing to study the games of some notable NBA players.
"I really watched Kobe a lot growing up and got a chance to play against him every summer until college," said DeRozan. "I still watch him play whenever I can and study his game. I also had a chance to workout and play with LeBron. Those two guys have probably influenced my game the most."
Look for Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to get C Dwight Howard the ball more today against Toronto than he did in the club's 83-78 victory at Boston on Friday night.
Howard didn't seem upset, cracking jokes with his teammates after scoring just nine points on only four field goal attempts against the Celtics. He did have 15 rebounds and three blocks, however.
"I thought he was great. I probably didn't go to him enough," Van Gundy said. "To be honest, the first half we had it rolling. There was no need to slow it down and go to the post. And then, in the second half, we had so many turnovers I got a little paranoid trying to get the ball in the post."
"It's a long time (to hold a grudge)," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It's interesting. Vince Carter gets that reception here; in New Jersey, he's the welcoming hero."
It has become a Canadian tradition. Celebrating Thanksgiving in October. Listening to Celine Dion. Curling. Jeering Vince Carter.
"I can't get caught up in that," Carter said. "Everybody is entitled to their opinion. It's unfortunate and there's a misconception in what really happened. I let the chips fall where they may."
Carter jilted Raptors fans by forcing his way out of Toronto and to the New Jersey Nets in a trade in 2004. They'll neither forget or forgive. This is where Pamela Anderson and Michael J. Fox and Vin-sanity were born.
Carter doesn't want to go over plowed ground.
"One day, everybody will understand," he said, unwilling to elaborate.
After Jay Triano went to his “ball handling” line-up on Friday, the previously quiet Mario Chalmers went off for 18 points in 13 minutes. Yes, Chalmers is the Heat’s point guard!
At the 1:02 mark of the third quarter, Jay Triano inserted Jose Calderon to play with Jarrett Jack. The score was 89-79 Raptors.
By 3:44 of the fourth quarter, the score was 100-99 Raptors. Not exactly a positive outcome for the duo point guard line-up.
Playing with Calderon, Jack was maintaining his perfect fourth quarter shooting record of oh fors by going 0-2. But when Triano briefly took Calderon off the floor for a minute at the 8:47 mark, Jack finally hit a jump shot.
I'll have more with Carter later, but he had this to say about watching DeRozan at the Jordan classic and on playing against a rookie who grew up watching him: "You're making me sound so old…. Yup, I was courtside watching him. It's funny because when we were here last time, I saw him upstairs and he didn't think I remembered him, but I recall it, I remember him."
"When I was a rookie, MJ was still playing, I played against Patrick, there's a lot of guys who were in the league. Spreewell, I was a fan of. Steve Smith, Tracy, he wasn't a veteran, but he was my cousin. More so excited to play with him at that time because we got drafted together. Some of my old friends from high school and college. I enjoyed finally playing against them at that level. Just anybody. You watch so much, you respect what they do, and then to get the opportunity to be a part of it, you get the opportunity to play the game and show them what you can do."
The Raptors are off to a slow start but some of that has to do with the fact that they played eight of their first 12 games on the road. Toronto has played more than half of its road games against the West (eight) already.
"People never really notice until it's like March or April and you're wondering why you're rolling at the right time," said Toronto's Chris Bosh. "Nobody remembers November. It's funny then. It's like, 'Remember when we sucked in November?' We'll be all right."
"We held our ground," said Chris Bosh, who had his eighth straight double-double. "They cut it very close, but we kept fighting. We kept scratching, and we got the stops when it counted."
Bosh is averaging a career-best 27.0 points and 12.2 rebounds and had a team-leading 35 points and 16 boards in the loss to Orlando earlier this month.
He has five straight double-doubles against the Magic since the start of last season and has averaged 30.2 points on 53.4 percent shooting in the last 10 matchups.
Orlando' star center, Dwight Howard, has been equally stellar in last four matchups versus the Raptors, averaging 30.5 points while shooting 59.7 percent.
The Magic hold a 5-3 edge in the series since the start of the 2007-08 season and are seeking their third straight win in Toronto.
The Raptors could be shorthanded when they play host to Vince Carter and the Orlando Magic on Sunday.
Both Andrea Bargnani, the starting centre, and Antoine Wright, the backup swingman, missed Saturday's practice with what coach Jay Triano described as the flu. They are expected to be game-day decisions for the 6-7 Raptors, as will Marco Belinelli, Toronto's backup shooting guard.
Belinelli missed practice Saturday with a sore left groin. He said he suffered the injury in Friday's win over the Miami Heat when he slipped on a puddle of his perspiration and involuntarily did the splits while attempting to guard Dwyane Wade.
"Like a ballerina," quipped Belinelli of his misadventure. "It was my sweat, so it was completely my fault."
It did not end well in Toronto but it’s not like his trade away from the Raptors was the only acrimonious parting in NBA history.
Toronto fans need to get over it. Go ahead and boo him as a member of an opposing team when he comes to town, but at some point, Raptors fans need to remember what he did for the popularity of the game and the notoriety he garnered for the franchise, and when the franchise does recognize him it will be done for what he did as a Raptor.
I have spoken with people in the Carter camp and Vince is going to pass on any kind of acknowledgment from the Raptors during tomorrow’s game at the Air Canada Centre against the Orlando Magic.
Apparently when this idea was brought up, someone mentioned that Carter himself should be asked about the whole thing and as it was put to me, "Why would Vince subject himself to that?" The reference to "that" being the cat calls and boos that would engulf any cheers showing appreciation.
Bosh, like I alluded to earlier, is a player who will almost always fall in the categories of “second tier” or “complimentary player.” This is to say that he isn’t on the level of your true superstars like LeBron or Dwyane Wade, or even on the level of other big men such as Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki.
However, this does not mean that Bosh isn’t a great player in his own right, and I think he gets a little under appreciated around the league.
Bosh is a player who has consistently put up 20 and 10 seasons, with the 20 sometimes going a little higher, and the 10 sometimes a little lower, but you get the gist.
He’s a versatile, lanky offensive player who runs the floor like a gazelle and has absolutely perfected the 18-foot jumper; he can attack the rim like a guard, and even occasionally back you down (although he doesn’t do this enough).
Some league executives felt Bosh, who was settling more and more for an outside offensive game, may actually have been regressing in Toronto.
The stats, which don't always lie, supported this. He's averaged exactly 22 points a game for the last five years while his rebounding and shooting averaging fluctuated.
But over the first month of this season, Bosh's seventh, the talented big man appears to be surging. Playing with perhaps the best roster during his time in Toronto, Bosh is playing with more aggression and vigor and racking up the stats.
He entered the weekend averaging career-highs across the board, putting up 27 points and 12.2 rebounds a night, nearly three more than his career average. Forcing the issue more by attacking defenses, Bosh's field goal percentage had pushed past 51 percent, his best ever.
The argument is whether Bosh can keep this up. Opinions are divided on that one as well, but Bosh has certainly advanced the discussion.
The Raptors were prepared to do the same for Carter – knowing that the reaction/reception he’d get from the ACC faithful may not be pretty! Thus, they left it up to VC himself to decide if he wanted to take part in any kind of festivities.
And I can’t say I blame him. Carter was in a no-win situation. If he agreed to some sort of honouring, he would have (likely) been booed mercilessly — like it always is in his returns to Toronto — and, thus, there’d be no real point to subjecting himself to that. For what?
But now that he has said “no thanks” … I’m sure a ton of folks will still label him unfairly and say that he should have taken part.
Like I said, it was a no-win situation for VC.
Yes, my fellow Raptor fan's it brings a tear of joy to my eye every time I see DeRozan, Weems and Belinelli drive the ball without hesitation. It brings ease to my shell shocked Raptor fanatic body to see the rebounding machine and athletic big man Amir Johnson respect his team and play his role without Shakespearean tragedy(a quick note to you Amir I saw that shot you took from the top of the key in the 3rd. Please don't.). To see Reggie Evans though wounded the warrior, still supporting the troops in the march to certain victory. Special mention goes out to Antoine Wright who thinks he's Michael Jordan.
But the Raps can take some confidence from a win over Miami into the Magic game. They can also feel confident that they can score with this Magic team and that is not a luxury that many NBA teams can claim. You can expect to see a little more of Rasho Nesterovic in this game to match up with Howard and Gortat. Although Amir Johnson has been doing solid work and should Rasho not be effective he will likely not be given to much rope to work with. Johnson has been a great spark off the bench and gives this team a lot of the things they hope to get from Reggie Evans when he returns.
But the true strength of this Raptors team is their bench.
The Raptors have always been known to have a deep bench and after the retooling of the roster and shuffling of players by Bryan Colangelo in the offseason, this new-look bench ranks near the tops if not the top in the NBA.
The new faces are Jarret Jack, Marco Belinelli, Antoine Wright, Amir Johnson, Sonny Weems and Reggie Evans. Returning players are Rasho Nesterovich and recently Pops Mensah-Bonsu.
In whatever combination off the bench this group has proved to be versatile, athletic, energetic, and dangerous offensively.
Jarrett Jack runs the offence with efficiency and understanding. He can drive, dish, shoot the mid-range and from the outside, and plays with great confidence.
Primetime Prediction: Go
At the age of 25, forward star Chris Bosh has unfortunately not received the opportunity to compete past the first round of the playoffs throughout his six year career.
Rumors circulated throughout the league last season that Bosh publicly spoke out to analyst Stephen A. Smith, stating that he was not interested in remaining as a Raptor after the '09-'10 season.
Although Bosh denied the rumor, it is pretty evident that he is foreseeing bigger and better things outside of Canada next season, especially after coming out the other day and saying that he feels unappreciated regarding to his '03 NBA Draft class.
Whether it's competing in Miami with D-Wade or joining a squad in the West, we strongly believe that CB4 will not be a raptor after this year.