I was there, in Dixon Park, when they opened up the Vince Carter basketball court. Vince was there, too, wearing his Raptors purple, passing the ball to the kids lined up to take a shot on the new court. I was one of the people in that line—even though I was already 21 years old at that time.
Vince spoke to some of the kids there after the formal opening ceremony, and he told us that they were going to work hard to win a championship; that the Raptors would win one for us.
I remember looking out at the sea of mostly Black and Brown faces there, at the court, all eager to meet Vince, to take a shot on his court, and to feel like someone was playing for them. This was a community that was mostly unseen by the other professional sports teams in the city, and these kids couldn’t always imagine themselves on a hockey rink or baseball diamond; they could see themselves on the court, though, and the Raptors were a team that saw them, too. When we all assembled on that new shiny court in Dixon Park, we felt like we belonged, like someone realized that we were there.
Last night’s NBA championship win for the Raptors wasn’t just a title for the city—it was a promise kept. It was the culmination of something that Vince Carter told us more than fifteen years ago: that we mattered, even when everyone else didn’t care that we were there, and that we mattered enough to work hard for, to fight for, to win a championship for.