Once upon a time on a Sunday afternoon, a little-known NBA franchise called the Toronto Raptors took on the Phoenix Suns on NBC — the first time in the team’s history it had been a part of a nationally televised game. That day — February 27, 2000 — also marked the day that team finally got on the NBA’s map. Some hotshot sophomore named Vince Carter went off for a franchise-record 51 points (a mark that still stands) and the Raptors went on to win 103-102 — the first of seven straight wins and 10 of 11.
I remember this one pretty vividly. I was actually there — the first time I’d ever sat in platinum seats (and of the few times I’ve actually sat there with those being my rightful seats, too) — and got a first-hand look at the spectacle. I remember late in the first half Butch Carter had a sub at the scorer’s table ready to replace Vince, then he went and nailed back-to-back triples and Butch called his replacement back. The man was hot, in the end hitting 17-of-32 from the field and 13-of-13 from the line and finishing with a layup in the final minute to give Toronto a lead it wouldn’t surrender.
Of course, a lot has changed since then. Still, as much as I hope Carter succumbs to a career-ending injury his next time out, I’ll never forget what he did that Sunday afternoon. I’ll be there again tomorrow for the Raptors and Suns, but I’m not expecting nearly as much in the way of dramatics. I’ll take a win, though.
For more Random Raptors Moments, check the archive here.