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  Sat, July 17, 2004


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Raps star triggers emotions
Bill Harris writes that the raging debate whether to trade Carter is no longer only about sports.
By BILL HARRIS, TORONTO SUN

For someone who has been accused of not being emotional enough, Vince Carter inspires nothing but emotion. From blind faith to blind rage, there's no in-between when the conversation turns to the Raptors star, who, through his representatives, has asked for a trade.

The pro-Vince people see Carter, 27, as a victim of the Raptors' cheapness and bad management.

The anti-Vince people see him as a poster child for everything that's wrong with the NBA.

As usual, the truth lies in the middle. But when things turn emotional, irrationality seeps into the equation.

Since the Raptors' season came to a merciful end in mid-April, Carter's celebrity status has been re-established in Toronto. Suddenly he's Prince William again, with people apparently fascinated by every aspect of his life.

That's ironic, since in the past three seasons Carter has abdicated his hoops throne. But the current Carter question has reached beyond true basketball folks. In fact, some of the most vocal people with regard to Carter barely have seen a basketball since Vince won the slam-dunk contest in 2000.

This attitude change may be rooted in the old inferiority complex that occasionally grips Canadians, in general, and Torontonians, in particular.

The notion of trading Carter has crept up several times during the past few seasons, and while viewpoints always were varied, the debate was calm and civil. And frankly, a majority of hardcore Raptors fans seemed to be in favour of trading Carter, figuring the marriage just wasn't working.

However, now that it has been suggested Carter doesn't love it here anymore, it no longer is only about sports. It's about principle, power, pride.

Some simply ignore the evidence and cling to the faint hope everything is okay. "Why would Vince want to leave?" they ask. "He hasn't stated publicly there's a problem, has he? He still likes the city, right? Can't everyone just be friends?"

Well, the final episode of Friends aired months ago.

Given the screeching volume of this debate, the next couple of weeks are going to be awkward ones for Carter, leading up to his charity game at the Air Canada Centre on July 30. He has his youth basketball camps in Toronto beginning on Monday, and his representatives are keen on having him promote his recently released children's book.

The thing is, anyone who talks to Carter, professionally or personally, is going to want to ask him the same questions: "Did you really request a trade? If you're mad, whom exactly are you mad at? Is this truly Carter's Last Stand?"

The betting here is Carter won't say anything remotely inflammatory -- for public consumption, at least -- until after his charity game. Once that's over, all bets are off as to how nasty this gets, though there's a strong belief inside the Raptors offices that Carter eventually will calm down.

WORST TIME

Coincidentally, even if Raptors general manager Rob Babcock privately has decided to grant Carter's wish, this is the worst time to get something done. Teams aren't going to offer anything good if they think the Raptors are desperate. But as the new season approaches, some clubs will look at their own rosters and get desperate themselves.

"If the Raptors know what's good for them, they'll sit tight for a while," a league source said this week. "Before they can address the Carter problem logically, things have to cool off."

The only problem with that strategy is, if this drags on, things might not "cool off." Emotions are running rampant. Everyone has an opinion. And every opinion is a strong one.

Carter sometimes is too even-tempered for his own good in the cut-throat world of professional sports. But either purposely or unwittingly, Carter has mastered the art of putting emotions in motion.









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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