In his weekly installment of “Story Time with Jalen Rose,” the former Raptors guard reminisced on a 2004 incident that occurred between superstar Vince Carter and then head coach Sam Mitchell.
It was the seventh game of the 2004 season against the Portland Trailblazers, and Rose was in the training room along with his teammate Carter.
The man known as “Air Canada” found himself on the trainer’s table, a sight that was becoming all too familiar for Raptors fans.
As Rose recalls, Mitchell walked into the training room and made a remark about the star’s constant injuries while give him a nudge.
Rose described Carter as an easy-going teammate who “wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight.”
However on this occasion, Carter decided to push back. The two quickly found themselves engaged in a full-out wrestling battle. Rose, along with some teammates, watched near by.
The 6-foot-6 all-star then lifted Mitchell over his head, and slammed him onto the ground. Rose quickly checked on his head coach’s health, after ensuring he was ok, the spectators burst out in laughter.
Carter and Mitchell made-up with a quick handshake, but as Rose recounts, “their relationship was never the same.”
Carter went 2-for-9 from the floor in just 22 minutes that night in a Raptors loss.
Back in the 2004 season season, tensions were high in Raptorland. The organization had just missed the playoffs and cleaned house in the off-season – firing GM Glen Grunwald and the entire coaching staff.
Carter was becoming increasingly disgruntled with the direction of the franchise, and was further upset at the fact that president Richard Peddie ignored his recommendation for GM.
Peddie assured Carter that they would consider Hall of Famer Julius Erving as a candidate, but the team signed Rob Babcock instead.
Babcock’s first order of business was naming Mitchell as head coach, a no-nonsense disciplinarian who wanted to set the tone early on. His second move was drafting Rafael Araujo with the eighth pick in the 2004 – a selection the organization would soon regret.
Mitchell’s hard-working team-first approach didn’t sit well with Carter, and it showed on and off the court. Carter averaged 15.9 points per game to go along with 30.4 minutes a night 20 games, both career lows.
The altercation in Portland proved to be the final straw, as Carter was shipped out to the New Jersey Nets a few weeks later.
Carter was later criticized after comments he made as a member of the Nets, indicating that he stopped trying in Toronto, even tipping off plays to opposing players.