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  Sat, July 31, 2004


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Vince doesn't owe us a thing
By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun


When he married Ellen Rucker this month in Florida, Vince Carter told her he would love her for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Ellen Rucker is the only person who deserves that guarantee from Vince Carter.

He doesn't owe it to you. He doesn't owe it to me. He doesn't owe new general manager Rob Babcock or coach Sam Mitchell anything more than his talent and his effort.

That's it. That's what you get for $60 million US over four years. Deal with it.

No unconditional love.

No promises of everlasting loyalty.

Just effort and ability.

Yesterday, Carter played cat and mouse with the press prior to his Vince Carter Charity All-Star Game.

Did he want to be a Raptor?

"I had the charity game for a reason," he said. "If I didn't want to be here, I wouldn't have it, I wouldn't put it on every year."

Why not state unequivocally that he wanted to stay?

"I just said that already. I don't know why you want me to keep saying it, but once is enough."

Well, actually, once wasn't enough because it wasn't even once.

Vince Carter would not say the words. He would not commit for better or worse, richer or, even richer.

It was like the wife who turns to her husband of longstanding and says, "How come you never tell me you love me."

"I'm here aren't I?" answers the husband.

The problem, as Ken Dryden used to say, is that doesn't feel right.

"I'm here aren't I?" doesn't cut it for a player who has been the subject of millions of words and images and commercials.

We need our athletes to love us. That's the deal. We make you stupendously rich, you make us feel good about ourselves by telling us how much you want to stay with us.

It's about love. Security. Reciprocity.

We have so much invested in heroes, so much money, so much media, so much hype. With every scoreboard exhortation for more noise, with every quarter pumped into a newspaper box, the fan intensifies his commitment.

That's not Vince Carter's fault. He's a basketball player. His job is to get people into the tent, not tell them he's going to stay there forever. That part's not up to him.

Look, I don't doubt Carter's nose was out of joint when Raptors president and CEO Richard Peddie didn't interview Carter's candidate, Julius Erving, for the GM job. No doubt Vince's people -- who cares who -- broached a trade.

Babcock's answer was clear enough. "We'll explore the options but in the meantime, give us a chance to show you what we can do."

WILL BE TRADED

Vince Carter is going to be traded. The only question is when. The Los Angeles Lakers traded Shaquille O'Neal and his three rings. If Babcock gets the proper combination of skill and salary, Carter will be gone and what of the love then?

Why is it just business if the company trades a player, but betrayal if the player initiates the trade?

Even wanting to stay can be construed as treason. Carlos Delgado is exercising his no-trade clause to stay in Toronto. His critics say that by squashing any trade that could bring prospects, Delgado is being disloyal to the city. How do you win?

Let's say for a moment that Carter gives everybody what they want. What if Saturday's headline reads "Vince: 'I'm a Rap for Life," and Sunday's is "Carter goes to Knicks in four-player deal."

Who's the lovestruck sucker then? Leave the guy alone. He's here, isn't he?









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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