“When I played for the Spurs we were in Game 7 in Dallas, and they ran a play like that and he hit the game-winner, from the same corner. Pump fake, jumper, three. I was guarding the in-bounder, and Pop was mad I let it get to the corner. And I just remember that shot in Philly in that series, when I was growing up, and he hit it. He actually hit it. And I was like, you have to hit it this time, huh? You have to hit it this time.” — Raptors guard, and Toronto native, Cory Joseph.

He was only nine years old, but Cory Joseph remembers. Of course he does. If you are a Toronto Raptors fan the franchise has few signposts that haven’t been buried by the sands, and the shot is one of them. Vince Carter, Game 7, Philadelphia. He caught the inbounds pass, left side. He pump faked once, and let it fly. It was the closest the franchise had ever come to winning a seven-game playoff series, and it was the high point for the franchise, ever. It was graduation day, except the Raptors never ascended that high again.

The funny part is that when he tells the story, Joseph makes a Dallas-San Antonio Game 3 a Game 7 without noticing, without missing a beat. He doesn’t note that this time Carter was closer to the corner, and behind the arc. In the moment of the telling it was the exact same shot, preserved in amber, as eternal as the idea of a dinosaur to a child. Joseph was one of a city of children who watched it sail long, just a little, and had their hearts lifted and broken.

It’s been 15 years since the miss, 16 years since Vincent Lamar Carter won the dunk contest, and nearly 12 years since he was traded to New Jersey for a bag of rocks. God, that trade. Now the All-Star Game is in Toronto, and the Raptors are second in the East, and the NBA world is coming here. Vince Carter, though, never really went away.