The Raptors casually were doing some shooting after their workout yesterday when an oafishly clumsy media member accidentally leaned against a complex set of switches and cut the lights in the practice facility. Naturally, just flicking them back on was an impossibility. Through some bizarre electrical system, it takes at least 10 minutes for things to power up again.
Therefore, when the media gathered around Vince Carter, it was in dark shadows.
"Sorry about the lights," the guilty reporter said.
Carter grinned wearily.
"You should have done that an hour ago," he said.
That it was a marathon, three-hour practice session for the Raptors yesterday came as no surprise to anyone. After all, it was the first chance for the team to practise with Carter, its marquee player, in more than a week.
Carter has been in court in Columbia, S.C., defending himself against a $14-million US lawsuit filed by his former agent, convicted felon William (Tank) Black. As wild-haired boxing promoter Don King would say, "Only in America."
Anyway, Carter was asked if it felt good to be away from a courtroom and back on a basketball court, the length of the workout notwithstanding.
"Uh-uh, not that long, man," a joking Carter said. He then became more serious and added, "Naw, you're right. It's good (to be here)."
Carter won't be in Toronto for very long, though. He's due back in court in South Carolina tomorrow morning, and at this point he has no idea when the proceedings will end.
"That's up to (the judge)," said Carter, whose Raptors will open the regular season at home on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets. "(The judge) just said, 'See you Monday.' That was it. I wanted to ask questions, but you can't do that. My lawyer said, 'Hey, deal with it.'
"I was lucky enough that (the judge) called these dates. We asked for it to be earlier. We were trying to get it before training camp started. But from what it sounds like, she has a busy schedule with all her different cases, so this is the only time she actually had. From what I was hearing, it was going to be in the middle of November at first. But we have no control over that. All we could do was ask. We didn't have a choice."
A media member suggested that with all this flying back and forth for court dates, Carter must have a small understanding of what Kobe Bryant went through last winter.
"No, I don't," Carter said with purposeful desperation, prompting laughter. Bryant, now the lone star player remaining with the Los Angeles Lakers, was charged with rape in Eagle County, Colo., but a settlement was reached before the case went to trial.
DOESN'T LIKE ATTENTION
Carter obviously can't relate to the seriousness of Bryant's predicament -- Carter's case is about money, Bryant's case was about his freedom -- but Carter already is acutely aware he never wants to be the centre of attention in a courtroom again.
Of course, he is not allowed to talk about the details of the lawsuit, or his testimony. But the process has opened his eyes to a new world, for better or worse.
"The toughest part is just being in there and hearing all the crap that goes on, believe me," Carter said. "Hopefully, I can do what I have to do (tomorrow) and I don't have to stay right to the end (of the trial).
"I don't know if you've ever been to court, but to see two lawyers argue, it's the best thing you'll ever want to see. It's the best. But still, I never want to go back."
Carter will stick around to participate in practice this afternoon, but after that it's a flight to South Carolina.
Hopefully nobody will kill the lights today, because this is one practice Vince Carter won't want to end.