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  Sat, January 24, 2004


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The Last Word
By BILL LANKHOF -- Toronto Sun


This is the most crucial time of year for the Raptors. No game is more critical than this one. No not last night's basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks, silly.

Bowling.

Vince Carter is so mad about the game he talks about competitors on the pro bowlers tour with a reverence and admiration usually reserved for, ahhh, well ... Vince Carter.

"Bowling," Mo Peterson says, "is an art." When people say he can't find the lane they obviously have never seen him at work with a bowling ball. "Whenever I get some free time the first thing I think about is bowling. And Vince is more serious about it than I am."

The two got to chirping at each other like a pair of gutter snipers over the Raptors' Bowl Kingpin Challenge, the annual team charity event that goes Feb. 21 at Playtime Bowl.

"I'm the champ," Peterson said with a smirk, drawing an instant rise out of Carter.

"Don't you listen to him. You just ask him who this team's defending champ is," Carter said as the team yesterday (and how appropriate is this) ventured into Perogie Country, where getting dressed up means wearing a string tie with your bowling shirt.

Laverne and Shirley, move over.

"Okay, I admit Vince was last year's champ, but I've reinvented my game, man," says Peterson, who caught the bowling bug back in high school. "The only trouble was back then the biggest shoe you could rent was a 13 so I ended up sliding on my socks or running shoes."

Carter laughs through his size 16s, "Yeah, happened to you, too, eh."

Since Carter's reincarnation as Air Canada, going barefoot has not been an option.

"How serious about bowling is he? You should see him," Peterson says with a snicker. "I mean he shows up with the powder and the gloves. He has his bag and the shoes. I show up and walk up to the counter and say, excuse me, I'll take a size 14."

Carter grins a little shyly. Even multi-millionaire superstars can, evidently, look embarrassed -- kind of like columnists armed with assignment memos who find themselves having to ask guys how big their balls are. A question like that, if misunderstood, can get you: a) Punched right in the double entendre or, b) A date.

You figure it out.

"I use a 15-pound ball," says Carter, who owns three bowling balls. "I don't have the control with the lighter 12-pound ball that Mo uses. He bowls with finesse and more spin. I throw harder."

Carter's best game was a 225. Peterson has hit 200. Both average from 160 to 170.

But don't even suggest to Carter that he might like to try the pro bowlers tour, like baseball pitcher John Burkett is doing, someday. "I was watching them on TV yesterday and they're amazing. Their average is higher than my high game. I'm just happy to hit 200."

Meanwhile, if word of this wholesome behaviour gets out it could ruin the league's reputation. After all the public perception in the past has been that while NBA players might have hobbies that involved balls -- they were usually dangling from some dancer's tassles.

If Charles Oakley hears about this he may never come back. Then again, some people might think that's not necessarily a bad thing. 









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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