Where Have All the Good Men Gone?
For you 80’s babies out there, you would recognize that this is the first line in Bonnie Tyler’s song, “I Need A Hero.” In this case, the “Hero” in question is Vince Carter. This hero wants a trade from Toronto. Right now, he doesn’t look much of a hero to me. As a disgruntled Raptors fan, I have the right to complain. Anytime a “franchise” player voices their desire to leave a team, it brings out the worst in the fans. Fans have this “love and hate” relationship with the franchise player. They view them as their own child.
Conception usually occurs on Draft Night. Whether it be the number one or the number ten draft, when a team uses their first pick selecting a player, they are officially christened as the child of the fans. In Carter’s case, we went out of our way to acquire him. As you may remember, we originally drafted his Tar Heel teammate Antawn Jameson, who eventually got traded for VC. It’s like being at the hospital, viewing our baby and asking, “Nurse, we don’t want this one. Can we have another?” Like parents, we watched young Vince Carter grow. We saw him hit the rookie wall, make rookie mistakes and grow as a player. We also saw flashes of brilliance. That incredible dunk, the quick first step and his cocky smile.
Soon, young Vince started showing his potential. He must have resided at the Royal Court since his job seemed to consist of crowning other players. Before we knew it, Vince was all grown up. Shedding his immature past, he undergoes a name change and is now known as “Air Canada.” Vince’s rite of passage in becoming a man was finally completed that fateful night in Oakland, California. He took the art of the Slam Dunk to another level. That one night, he made all the Raptor faithful proud. Wearing his Raptor jersey, he walked off the court to a standing ovation. Not many around the League may know about the Raptors but, after that night, they knew their players weren’t safe from being “posterized.” It was like this Raptor graduated from University (which he actually did during the playoffs vs. the Sixers). Everyone was proud. Maybe too proud.
After that night, we let our guard down. Being the proud parents that we were, we let ourselves become those annoying parents who think the world of our Vince. We took his side in every situation. We chose him over Tracy McGrady, who was banished from the Raptor House. We got Vince anything he wanted, whether it was an ice cream sundae or Milt Palacio. For all the things we did, we just expected him to be with us throughout his career. In return, he showed his good intentions by signing a new contract. We also paid him a lot of money for that contract extension.
Similar to life after College, however, things started to get rocky. Things didn’t exactly go as expected. Similar to the college grad frustrated in looking for a job, Vince was frustrated looking for that championship ring. Fingers were pointed and someone had to be fired. In this case, it was GM Glen Grunwald, who did everything Vince ever wanted. Maybe we should have picked up the clues, maybe it was an omen but things went from bad to worse after that. Vince started becoming plagued by injuries, giving us parents a good scare. However, the relationship between parent and child was no longer the same at this point. Instead of asking, “Are you okay?” we asked “Can you play?” Maybe one of the two parties should have taken a step back to look in the mirror, but there was no time for that since training camp was just around the corner. Soon, this house was no longer a very, very fine house. There were strangers in the house, always on the move. Head coaches that come and go, soon enough, our front door soon became a revolving door for free agents. It was no longer a loving household, but a halfway house, an NBA purgatory where players do their time before they lay their careers to pasture.
Vince is now a man. He looks at what’s happened around the house he grew up in and decides that it’s time to move on. With nothing but his knowledge of the game (and a few million dollars in a sack), he gets up and asks permission to leave the house. The parents feel betrayed but they understand. They have to understand. Love it or hate it, he is leaving for good. No more words need to be said. A hero would have stayed, to clean his own house. Vince Carter is leaving to live at another’s house.
Oh, where have all the good men gone?