Do it with class, skip the crass

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

Please, don't do anything stupid.

Be clever, not crass.

This is a public plea to Raptors fans planning to voice their displeasure with Vince Carter tomorrow night.

If you want to boo Carter, go ahead. Rattle the rafters. Scream at him, if you wish. Call him a wimp, a fraud, a traitor, if that's the way you feel.

But never lose sight of the fact this is just sports. Don't throw anything. Don't use profane language. Let's not make fools of ourselves when we know the eyes of the basketball world are going to be upon us.

Dip into that deep reserve of Canadian wit, or sarcasm, or humour. Hey, it's not as if Carter hasn't provided ample material for mockery.

Make a sign. Paint your face yellow. Come dressed as your favourite knee injury. But don't cross the line.

Not sure where the line is?

Well, an eagle-eyed e-mailer pointed out that there are T-shirts for sale on the internet with the letters "FUVC" emblazoned across the front.

Not that we're the official judges of good taste, but we would consider those T-shirts to be right on the line. Profanity is not explicitly spelled out, but it is implied. And we just don't think a famous four-letter swear word is needed to get your point across.

Carter and his New Jersey Nets will be making their first visit to Toronto since the Raptors traded him last December. Carter's game had plateaued in Toronto, but he has been on a tear since joining the Nets.

How much resentment will be on display tomorrow? Opinions differ.

"It's just another game we're trying to win," Raptors point guard Rafer Alston said on Tuesday prior to his club's victory in New York against the Knicks.

"Vince spent the bulk of his career in Canada and he was the face of the franchise. (The Nets) are trying to make the playoffs, we're trying to be the spoilers. After the standing ovation, we have a job to do."

Standing ovation? We're due back on planet earth now, Rafer.

A few minutes later, an American reporter told Alston that the Canadian reporters have been saying the scene could get ugly tomorrow.

"It's a different media up there," responded Alston, who was unaware a Canadian reporter was within earshot. "Vince is going to get some cheers and he's going to get some boos. But up there, any little thing turns out to be something major."

Yeah, like when you threatened to retire, Rafer, then walked out of a practice and got suspended, then almost had a physical fight with your coach? The goofy Canadian media thought that stuff was kind of major. Silly reporters.

But to be fair to Alston, some people will show up to cheer Carter tomorrow. Maybe more than we think.

But we remain quite certain the Carter supporters will be vastly outnumbered by the Carter detractors.

Security will be tight, but the reason to control yourself has little to do with the prospect of getting caught. It has to do with dignity, with the belief that we aren't one or two beers away from descending into the kind of free-for-all brawl that occurred near the end of an NBA game in Detroit earlier this season.

That brawl, by the way, lasted about five minutes and no one was seriously hurt. But how many times have we seen the videotape? What has it done for Detroit's reputation?

IDIOT OR TWO

We're not suggesting anything like that is on tap for tomorrow. But all it takes is an idiot or two to spoil the fun. And that's what it should be, remember? Fun.

If you want to jeer Carter, do it because you want to get it off your chest and it will be fun to try to unnerve him, not because it has become your new, humourless life mission.

It's just a game, folks.

If you're mad at Carter, we understand. But please don't cross the line from anger to Vinsanity.


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