Transfer of power

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

HOUSTON -- How the mighty have fallen.

It used to be that Vince Carter couldn't go to the bathroom without an entourage of fans and media following close behind.

Some carrying toilet paper.

Once the leading vote-getter for the NBA all-star game and one of the most popular athletes in the world, Carter has thus far attracted surprisingly little attention at this year's all-star festivities at the Toyota Center in Houston.

The adoring crowds, including a few carrying notepads and microphones, have been swarming the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, the usual suspects.

Carter's stock seems to have fallen considerably since his trade to the New Jersey Nets. Perhaps his admitting that he sometimes mailed it in as a member of the Raptors has damaged his reputation a little bit.

The good news is, Vinsanity managed to get through yesterday's Eastern Conference practice -- if you can call it a practice -- without suffering a stubbed toe or other near-fatal injuries.

But there has been one other player who has received even less attention at this year's all-star event than Carter. His former teammate Chris Bosh.

This is Bosh's first all-star game and the third-year NBA forward is so thrilled to be here, he doesn't seem to mind the the fact that he is the forgotten man in these parts.

But while Bosh may not be a big player among the NBA elite just yet -- although there's no doubt that he has achieved that status on the court -- he may hold the most power over his own team than any other player in the league, with the possible exception of Shaq.

Bosh is only 21, and he already, for all intents and purposes, is calling the shots in Raptorland.

That's not a slight toward interim general manager Wayne Embry, one of the most distinguished gentlemen in the game. It's just that the Raptors will not make a significant move in the future without the gangly Dallas native giving it his blessing.

The bottom line is, Bosh is the Raptors. The Raptors can't have Bosh jump ship when his contract expires following the 2007-08 season. They desperately want him to sign a new long-term deal before that because if he leaves, following the example of Tracy McGrady and Carter, it may be next to impossible to keep any other star in Toronto for any length of time.

The kid has tremendous power, and he knows it, though he insisted yesterday that he will not take advantage of the situation.

"I think sometimes you have to feel wanted," Bosh said. "And I definitely get that feeling in Toronto, just as far as I'm not abusing that power."

"I know they'll listen to my input on certain things. I just try to give the best input I can."

His first order of business is to try to convince Embry and the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. honchos to sign point guard Mike James to a multi-year deal. He also hinted that he also wants a say in who the Raps draft and whatever free agents they might pursue. That's good news for the MLSE gang because Bosh will probably want to stay with a team built around himself. Indeed, he already is speaking as if he's the GM.

"I'm not going to try to just get the best player. I'm going to try to get the best person ... who can play basketball," he said. "Because if you surround yourself with good people, it's not a headache. When you're with friends through tough times, you can muster up the energy to (win)."


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