Vince Carter yesterday took the time to single out one Raptor in particular for extended praise:
Take a bow, Jalen Rose.
"I'm looking forward to seeing Jalen, because I built a special bond with him, just through our names being tossed around in trade rumours," Carter said yesterday in East Rutherford, N.J., where his New Jersey Nets will play host to Rose and the Raptors this evening.
"Jalen helped me, just keeping me focused, keeping me above water. We had a lot of conversations. He is one of many guys who was on my side, behind me and supporting me, either way. That's one thing I really appreciate him for, and I've gained even more respect for Jalen Rose because of it."
Like Carter, Rose's reputation in NBA circles hasn't always been stellar through the years. But Carter claimed the old cliche about not judging a book by its cover could not apply more accurately than it does to Rose.
"People tag him in so many different ways, and yet, it's an unfair tag, because people really don't know what kind of guy and teammate he really is," said Carter, who was traded from the Raptors to the Nets last December. "Every time I hear something negative about him, I just laugh, because people really don't know.
"He's a true vet. If you tell a rookie when he comes into the league to try to find a vet to learn from, he's definitely one of those guys. If a guy were drafted by Toronto, I'd tell him, hey, get with Jalen Rose and talk to him, learn from him, pick his brain. He has been around, he has been in finals, he has been with great players, he has accomplished so many things, ups and downs. He has seen it all. That's why I was just happy to have him around."
Carter also was close to former teammates Morris Peterson, Milt Palacio and Alvin Williams in Toronto.
"I could say a little bit about each player, and I hate to leave some of them out," Carter said. "But I just felt something needed to be said about Jalen."