Vince back where he belongs

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

Maybe every time Vince Carter looked into the faces of the Houston Rockets last night, he saw Tank Black.

Carter was back in Toronto in time for the Raptors' NBA season-opener after getting slapped in the face on Tuesday by a $4.7-million US court settlement that went against him in a lawsuit filed by Black, his former agent, who is in prison for stealing money from his clients.

"It always hurts to lose, whatever it's in, and that amount of money, boy, it's a big chunk," Carter said after he had scored 16 points in the Raptors' 95-88 victory. "So I felt a little light in the pockets on the court, believe it or not.

"It could have been more, that's the way I tried to approach it," said Carter, referring to the fact that Black had sued for $14 million.

Carter said sitting in a courtroom can be exhausting.

"My hat's off to Kobe Bryant for doing it for a whole year," Carter said. "Just sitting there, it drains you. And to hear what I had to hear that whole week? It was mind-boggling sometimes. But I'm glad to be back."

Carter seemed excited by the Raptors' victory, although he looked a little drained at times during the game, too. That, and his foul trouble in the second half, probably was due to the fact he hasn't had a lot of basketball in his life over the past week.

But he scored the Raptors' first bucket of the season, he hit a huge three-pointer with four and a half minutes to play, and he made a great pass to teammate Loren Woods for a dunk in the final minute that settled the jittery but resilient Raptors.

Back in September, Carter publicly asked to be traded.

'LOVE BEING HERE'

"I love being here," Carter insisted last night. "I don't dislike Canada or Toronto. I wanted to just win tonight (for the fans). It's only one game, but it's great to start on a good foot.

"I'm here. Whatever happens from here happens."

Would Carter consider publicly rescinding his trade demand?

"I already said that at training camp, so there's nothing else to say," Carter said.

Actually, Carter never said anything close to, "I don't want to be traded," during training camp. But for one night, at least, all those issues were on the back burner.


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