Vince says he's a happy camper

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

Listening to Vince Carter explain his state of mind is like listening to John Kerry explain his stance on the Iraq war.

Contradictions abound, yet Carter, the Raptors' marquee player, and Kerry, the Democratic candidate for president of the United States, insist they've been consistent all along. Forgive us for being confused.

Carter yesterday did not renounce his demand that the Raptors trade him. But he insisted his personal situation will not be a distraction as the club opens its 10th training camp this morning at Brock University in St. Catharines.

"That's stupid," Carter said when asked if he might dog it during camp because he's unhappy. "I'm going to come up here and just because I want to be traded I'm going to mope and pout? That's dumb."

In typical Carter fashion, he professed not to know what all the controversy was about, like somehow the media and the fans had caused this.

So, the team's best player demands a trade. A trade hasn't happened yet, so everyone wants to know what Carter is thinking. How is that the reporters' fault or the fans' fault? Seems like you made your own bed on this one, Vince.

"Your questions are ridiculous," Carter said with borderline belligerence. "Y'all ask crazy questions. Why wouldn't I be here? I'm an NBA player. I get paid to play."

Do you still want to be traded?

"I'm here to play, man," Carter said, dodging. "I'm not answering any of them questions. I said what I had to say. I think everybody understood that and now it's time to play."

Most of the other Raptors reacted to questions about Carter's trade request with a shrug. These guys play in the NBA, after all, where self-interest is like oxygen.

"I have no reaction," veteran swingman Jalen Rose said. "(Carter) said enough. He said it with an exclamation point. So there's really not much for me to elaborate. What he said was pretty firm and direct."

Does Rose feel it's his job to get Carter enthused about the Raptors again?

"Of course," Rose said. "But it doesn't start through the media. It doesn't start in the summer. It starts out here on the floor, when that score is up on the board and we all have the same (team name) on the front (of the jerseys)."

Chris Bosh said he was "surprised" when he heard about Carter's trade demand, but the second-year forward vowed to try to get Carter back on board emotionally.

"I haven't hit him hard yet, but I'm going to work on it," Bosh said. "That's something Vince has to correct, I guess, between himself and the organization. But at the same time, I'd hate to see him go. I want him to stay here."

Guard Alvin Williams expressed similar emotions.

"Vince is a friend of mine," the longest-serving Raptor said. "I want what's best for him and what's best for the team.

"Of course, we need a Vince Carter. But I understand, if Vince is not happy, he may need to move on. I hope he doesn't, but I don't know -- that's selfish reasons."

Carter described his relationship with his teammates as "business as usual," and his teammates seemed to back him up on that. Only time will tell if the relationship between Carter and Raptors fans has been severed, presuming he isn't traded before he has an opportunity to find out.

And he still wants to be traded, right?

"I'm going to say this, before you guys ask ... and I don't really care what management thinks, or what you guys think," Carter said. "I'm coming here to play. I'm going to do whatever needs to be done -- until further notice."

Hmmm ... that's kind of like saying you were in favour of the Iraq war, but it was a huge mistake to proceed along the path that was chosen, but now that you're in Iraq anyway, you still want to win.

Geez, Vince, are you sure you aren't running for president?


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