Sorry about that, Vince. Yours truly was among those who cynically rolled their eyes on Feb. 18 when Vince Carter of the Raptors hinted at foul play after he had sprained his left ankle. After elevating for a jump shot, Carter landed on the foot of Bruce Bowen of the San Antonio Spurs during a game at the Air Canada Centre. Carter's lower leg bent grotesquely as it took his weight and the injury actually could have been a lot worse than it was.
Later in the Toronto locker room, a dour Carter suggested Bowen's foot might have been placed in a dangerous spot deliberately.
"I question if it was an accident," Carter said.
Yeah, sure. Nothing like deflecting attention away from another injury. Just Vince being Vince, right?
Well, the hue and cry about Bowen has intensified around the league this season. Ray Allen of the Seattle SuperSonics is among those to complain, stating after a game against Bowen and the Spurs that "I've never been so mad on the court. I wanted to fight him."
The most recent accusation about Bowen came from Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson. Bowen planted a forearm into Mavs guard Michael Finley last Friday and while Finley was ejected for retaliating, Bowen went unpunished. The Dallas organization subsequently was incredulous that Bowen wasn't suspended by the league for his actions.
"You now can put me down as one of the many who have called (Bowen) dirty," Nelson said. "I've never cast an aspersion toward him before, but he's a dirty player. And I'll remember it. I'm shocked he wasn't suspended."
Finley went so far as to suggest anyone considering voting for Bowen as the league's defensive player of the year should re-examine his tactics.
Now, this is not to say definitively that Bowen intentionally tried to injure Carter. No one ever can know what was in Bowen's head except Bowen himself, and the video evidence was not conclusively damning.
But the point is, it was wrong to dismiss Carter's words immediately. Maybe you were right, Vince.
While it's not unusual that ex-Raptor and current Portland Trail Blazer Damon Stoudamire took part in a random drug test last Friday, the unusual element was that the test was conducted by a columnist from a local newspaper.
As Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks held open a bathroom door, Stoudamire urinated into a cup and handed the sample to a columnist from The Oregonian, who had it tested. Stoudamire passed.
"I did it because I have nothing to hide," Stoudamire said.
He had promised the paper five months ago he would provide a random urine sample whenever asked. Stoudamire's pledge came in the wake of his public apology to Portland fans after he was charged with possession of marijuana following a search at an airport.
Some obvious differences of opinion between Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald and coach Kevin O'Neill regarding roster moves have been chronicled regularly in the Toronto media all season. But now the tension is getting noticed by the league-wide media, too, which could lead to more questions about the direction of the franchise if the Raptors fail to make the playoffs ... Gross! Drew Gooden of the Orlando Magic missed a game Sunday because of infected hair follicles on his right leg. We don't know how that happens and, quite frankly, we don't want to know ... Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers recently was fined by his team when he didn't show up for a game because of illness and failed to phone coach Chris Ford. "I was at home throwing up blood so the first thing I could think of was contacting the (team) doctor," Iverson said. "I thought I did everything it took to get me excused but it wasn't enough." ... Chris Webber of the Sacramento Kings has begun to examine his life, even at the tender age of 31. "I sit back now and think about all the bad things that have happened, the stupid things I've done, and I realize the only way to wipe it all away is to win a championship in the NBA," Webber said. "It might all seem worthwhile then." It isn't clear how lying to a U.S. federal grand jury about accepting illegal benefits at the University of Michigan would be made "worthwhile" by winning an NBA title, but maybe Webber knows best.