Vince and 'Zo put one over on Babcock

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

The statute of limitations is fast approaching for Vince Carter trade rants in this city. I fully accept that.

But this is just in under the wire.

Is it not galling to anyone who cares about the Raptors, and that includes presumably the people who play for, manage and own them, let alone the fans, to watch Carter and that other carpetbagger Alonzo Mourning spewing about heart and soul and commitment, now that they're locked in mortal playoff combat?

"I made a tremendous amount of sacrifices and this is the reward, playing on this stage, with this group of guys," gushed Mourning to reporters after his Miami Heat beat Carter's New Jersey Nets to go up 2-0 in their opening-round series the other night.

Mourning played a pivotal role in the Game 2 Miami win, nailing 21 points and nine rebounds in just 16 minutes. This is the same guy who was unfit medically, according to the Raptors medical team, to set foot in the Toronto locker room.

Not that good ol' Alonzo would have been here anyway. All he wanted was to shake down the Raptors for $10 million in buyout money then run off to his true love in Miami.

Mourning is playing in Shaquille O'Neal's large shadow but O'Neal has been hurt.

"The Hulk carried Superman," said O'Neal, he being Superman. "(Mourning) told me before the game that 'I've got your back.' "

It is also interesting to read what the Nets are saying about Mourning. Look closely and you'll recognize a familiar storyline.

"Man, he didn't play like that when he played for us," Brian Scalabrine told a New Jersey paper.

Yeah, well, there's a lot of that going around. Scalabrine was talking about Mourning but it sounds an awful lot like the talk around Toronto about Carter after he left and lit it up in Jersey.

Jason Kidd was telling reporters how much Carter has meant to the spiritual health of the New Jersey team and Carter says he understood because that was what he was feeling in Toronto, that he needed backup.

"You always want someone to help you," Carter told the New York Post. "When the emphasis is placed on (Kidd) or when he's tired, or when he needs help ... he knows I've got his back and I'm going to go down fighting with him."

Kind of like the way Carter meshed with Rafer Alston.

So, let's summarize. Mourning has Shaq's back and Carter has Kidd's back. Just two wonderful standup guys looking out for those who matter most. Sends a shiver down your spine.

So, while these two men of such impeccable character, who share the personal experience of each having stiffed Toronto on the way to this crossroad, revel in their playoff spotlight, it is easy to reflect that it couldn't have come out worse for the Raptors and especially their general manager, Rob Babcock.

Everybody knew Carter was going to be rejuvenated in Jersey. But nobody really could have expected Mourning to once again be the kind of warrior who led the great Miami teams of the 1990s.

And if you look really closely, you can see the outline of the money belt where he keeps Toronto's $10 million.

As if Babcock needed another reminder that this was the trade from hell. Those two draft picks he has in his pocket are the only real evidence that Carter was ever in Toronto and unless he turns them into the second coming of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, heaven help him.

The ultimate indignity for Babcock would be that he doesn't even get to use those picks. One of these nights, his board of directors might just get so tired of watching the 'Zo and Vince mutual admiration society on TV that they make him walk the plank.


Photos