The big tipper?

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

Vince Carter leaves Toronto with a dark cloud over his head and his reputation in danger of being irreversibly destroyed.

In a story in the Tacoma News Tribune yesterday, no fewer than three members of the Seattle SuperSonics say they believe Carter intentionally tipped off a play during the final minute of the Raptors' 101-94 loss to the Sonics at the Air Canada Centre.

According to Frank Hughes of the News Tribune, with 29 seconds remaining in the Nov. 19 game, and the Sonics leading 97-90, the Raptors called a timeout. After returning to the court, Carter lined up along the edge of the key, facing the Sonics' bench.

According the Sonics players, Carter said directly to the opposition bench: "It's a flare. It's a flare." The Raptors, inbounding the ball above the Sonics bench, then ran a flare play for Carter.

Carter, reached yesterday through Raptors spokesman Jim LaBumbard, responded: "I'm not going to comment on something as ridiculous as that."

Carter was traded to the New Jersey Nets on Friday for Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams, Aaron Williams and two draft picks.

Raptors general manager Rob Babcock and head coach Sam Mitchell claimed not to have any proof or inside information on the incident. Babcock denied that trading Carter had anything to do with the alleged incident, suggesting that he would give Carter the benefit of the doubt and would not investigate.

"As soon as this trade is finalized, he's not our property. I don't know what the point of pursuing it at this point would be," Babcock said.

"The players in this league, many times, will do things (like that) sometimes joking, sometimes as a challenge," the GM added. "I've heard players say things like that numerous times ... you could say it was a strategic thing, maybe trying to mislead them. (But) if a player was to go down and intentionally reveal the play we were going to run, you better win the game."

According to one member of the Sonics, the bench reacted immediately to what Carter said with Sonics players saying: "Did you hear that? Did you see that? That's (expletive) up."

Another Sonic said he discussed the play with a coach after the game, and the coach said: "If you ever do that, I'll run you out of the league."

One of the Sonics who allegedly heard Carter's comment was forward Reggie Evans, who told the News Tribune: "I ain't scared of Vince or nothing like that, but that is between him and his conscience."

Asked why Carter would reveal the play, the Sonics member told the News Tribune: "We were all under the impression that he was sabotaging his team because he was getting booed by the fans and he wanted to get traded."

"I refuse to believe that," Raptors forward Chris Bosh said. "I don't think any player in the NBA would do that. That's not professional. I think they are just gunning for (Carter)."


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