Last weekend we made our annual trek to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and for the second year running we watched a basketball documentary. Last year it was Giants of Africa (www.tiff.net/films/giants-of-africa), which deserves its own post at the very least. This year it was The Carter Effect (www.tiff.net/tiff/the-carter-effect).
We enjoyed the doc, which was directed by Hamilton ex-pat Sean Menard and produced by UNINTERRUPTED, the “all-digital sports programming network” associated with the star power of LeBron James (who, along with Drake, is one of the Executive Producers of The Carter Effect).
But this post isn’t about the film. It’s about something I was already thinking of that the film brought back to mind.
I listen to a few sports podcasts, a couple of them focused on the NBA. During the off season, coming up with content is obviously a bit of a struggle. Over the past few months I ended up learning way more than I wanted to know about the top players’ social media activities. But it’s not like NBA players weren’t doing other basketball-related things, important things too.
If I wasn’t subscribed to the NBA channel on YouTube I might not have heard anything about the NBA Africa Game or the halfcourt shots to raise funds for the United Nations Children’s Fund, SOS Children’s Village of South Africa, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Or the players’ visit to the SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale. Or the NBA’s partnership with Habitat Humanity in South Africa.
I’m not saying things like this are a big secret. It’s not that. But charity work in the NBA just isn’t big news. And it could be, at least once in a while. Especially during the off season. Not to make heroes out of NBA folks for doing this stuff, but to remind us that there’s more to being a pro-athlete than the game, however important that game may be.
How does this relate to Raptors-era Vince Carter? Through an NBA all-star charity game that, as I understand it, actually was relatively big news when it happened. According to Steven Loung of sportsnet.ca, these charity games are among Vince Carter’s “greatest triumphs.” Carter’s ability to attract star players to help raise money for Toronto charities – well, that’s part of The Carter Effect. An important part.
Maybe it’s not just the media’s fault that the social media rumour mill drums up more attention than charity work. And, of course, teams and players don’t always make the move for the greater good. (They really can’t be expected to.)
At least it looks like Vince Carter is still interested in throwing down some serious dunks for a good cause.