Charles Oakley believes the Toronto Raptors would have emerged victorious in Game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals if then-teammate Vince Carter didn’t attend his college graduation ceremony that day.
“No doubt,” Oakley said during a guest appearance on Tim and Sid Friday afternoon. “Hands down.”
Carter travelled to North Carolina prior to Game 7, then back to Philadelphia for the evening game against Allen Iverson and the 76ers. He finished the game with just 20 points and missed a last-second desperation jumper as the Raptors fell 88-87.
It was, to that point, the most important contest in Raptors history and Carter faced much scrutiny in the days that followed.
Oakley, in Toronto this week for the Tournament of Stars, a celebrity basketball tournament in support of West Park Healthcare Centre, says the team found out at the “last minute” that Carter would be attending his graduation.
When asked if Raptors players protested to management, Oakley said: “No. He’s still our brother. It was important to him and his life … He made the right decision for him, but it wasn’t a team decision.
“He came in, played a good game, but it’s like a band member off key,” added Oakley, who played with Carter for three seasons in Toronto. “You know the difference.”
Watch the full interview in the video player above.