When you look back at Vince Carter’s long career, your first memory will probably be of him wearing a Toronto Raptors uniform for six years and where he established himself as an All-Star. Although his most memorable playing days were in Toronto, in the last season with the team, Carter wasn’t pleased with the direction the team was going, and the Raptors weren’t happy with his behavior off the court.
In a 2004 regular-season game between the Raptors and the Seattle Sonics, Carter tipped off a play to the Sonics bench during the final minute of the game. The Raptors called a timeout with only 29 seconds remaining on the clock, and according to different players on the Sonics, Carter returned from the huddle and told the Sonics which play they are planning to run.
Before the play began, he said directly to the Seattle bench, “It’s a flare. It’s a flare.” The Raptors then ran a flare play.
Ray Allen, who was playing for the Sonics at that time and was in charge of guarding Vince Carter for most of the game, said he didn’t hear anything but did confirm that three of his teammates listened to what Vince said before the play started.
“I didn’t hear it, but that’s what those other guys were saying (after the game). But all I said was, ‘Why would he do that?’ I don’t know why he would do that.”Ray Allen
The Raptors would end up losing against the Sonics. Still, what is interesting about this story is that Rob Babcock, who was the Raptors General Manager at that time, heard about the incident and decided to trade Vince Carter for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams, and two first-round draft pick.
At that time, things were falling apart for the Raptors, and 28-year-old Carter believed he was wasting time with the organization that is not capable of improving the existing roster and compete for a championship.
Vince Carter’s bad sportsmanship was on display several times during that season, and even to this day, some Raptors fans have mixed feelings towards Carter. This incident against the Sonics diminished Carter’s reputation in Toronto because it was a very unprofessional move no other player would think of doing. It showed a lack of sportsmanship and respect for his team.