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  Tue, July 13, 2004


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Speak up, Vince
Time to say what's wrong is right now
By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

The time has come for Vince Carter to stand up, be a man, and say what's on his mind.

The time has come to put the rumours to rest, to quiet the speculation, to declare whatever it is that he has to declare.

No more hiding. No more whispering. No more planting stories through third-party sources. No more mysteries.

This honeymoon is long over.

Now, there is only explaining to do. Right now.

Not after all the spots in the Vince Carter Basketball Academy have been filled next month.

Not after all the tickets -- or some of the tickets -- have been sold for this month's Vince Carter Charity All-Star Game.

Not after everything with his name attached has been marketed and packaged.

Say it and say it directly now: I want in or I want out.

No in between. No soft pedalling. No spin. The straight goods.

Toronto deserves to know, demands to know. It has been too long and there have been too many versions of the same story out there. This dance has gone on seemingly forever with current and past management and current ownership and board members not only being party to it, but partners in the discomfort.

They created this Vince Carter power base once he signed long-term to play for the Raptors. He was no longer just a basketball player. He became the next sentence in every basketball decision: I wonder what Vince thinks about this?

CONTROL

Carter is a friend of the chairman of the board. The previous general manager consulted him on player acquisitions.

The team asked his opinion on coaching candidates and hirings. Whatever control he asked for was granted with red carpet treatment and little opposition.

Never once did anyone say to him: "Listen, we pay, you play. That's the deal here." The relationship that the Raptors based their entire future on has been primarily one-way, the wrong way.

This has been an NBA summer of monumental and historical proportions. Shaquille O'Neal, the game's pre-eminent player and big man, unofficially has been traded to the Miami Heat by the Los Angeles Lakers. Tracy McGrady, the former Raptor and scoring champion, has been dealt to the Houston Rockets from the Orlando Magic. Both told management they wanted out and both were stunningly accommodated in quick fashion.

Vince Carter has never been so straightforward.

He has let others do the talking for him. He is rarely succinct. Almost from the day last season ended, after GM Glen Grunwald had been fired, before Kevin O'Neill was dismissed as coach, before management shuffled and a new coach was hired, the Carter stories have been in circulation.

TRADED

Our Bill Harris was the first to bring them to light in print. Since then, espn.com, the well-respected U.S. network website, twice has reported that Carter wants to be traded from Toronto.

None of the stories have had named attribution. More importantly, none of the stories have featured any kind of denial from Carter.

This is the difficulty for new general manager Rob Babcock. He didn't create this mess, he's just being asked to clean it up. The very nature of his job description is to either appease Carter -- the historical and unsuccessful Raptors frame of reference -- or to move him.

For his part, Carter has remained typically non-committal. The whispers, from the usual suspects, are out there. They are not inventing his desire to be traded.

Vince Carter needs to come clean about his future in Toronto. Either he's in or he's out.

We really need to know.









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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