SPORTS

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February 14, 2003

I hate Vince Carter

If Vince Carter were a boyfriend, he'd be the kind who comes over late at night and wants to have sex and says he loves you and then leaves again at five o'clock in the morning to do something boyfriends shouldn't do. Like go out drinking with his buddies, or sell your car to finance his Ponzi scheme, or try to shoot a nationally respected church father. He'd be the kind who really sounds like he means it when he says he loves you but clearly demonstrates through all of his actions that he doesn't because he is a big jerk at heart. That's what you'd have to conclude if you studied the matter carefully.

But he's still your boyfriend. You have fond memories, like when he brought you flowers and your favorite sandwich from Subway when you were in the hospital, or that time he dunked over Frederick Weis's entire seven-foot (French) body.

It's hard to forget this. Vince Carter, your boyfriend, America's boyfriend, representing his girl/country in USA Olympic threads, approaches the hoop in what has to be called a normal fashion. He looks straight ahead, finds an extremely seven-foot-two Frenchman between him and the basket. Now a barely perceptible pause: Vince Carter, your boyfriend, is making a decision. Then he lifts off, one arm out in front of him, one dragging the basketball behind him. The leading arm lands on ol' Frederick's shoulder, pushing Vince Carter, your boyfriend, still higher. (Here, because you are a jealous sort of a girl or country, you can't help but notice that Vince's lower abdomen is directly in front of Frederick Weis's face. You also notice that this is not lost on Mr. Weis.) Vince Carter, you dunked over all of Frederick Weis. You were, for one and a half seconds or so, the greatest person ever to walk anywhere near a basketball court. You screamed. Kevin Garnett pushed you. You shook your leg in enthusiasm while screaming some more. You were America's boyfriend, and America loved you.

The one and a half seconds are over now. It's back to jerkface Vince Carter, drinking, car-selling, priest-shooting Vince Carter. Which is weird, because it wasn't always this way. Not at North Carolina. Not when he got traded for his college teammate on draft night. Thank goodness Vince didn't up with the no-goodnik Warriors, where yacht-sailing vicious dog owners like L. Sprewell run riot. No, our boy Vince would hang his professional shingle with the genial, dinosaur-themed Toronto team. Then his cousin Tracy was on the same team. Sweet! Then Tracy left, presumably because he wanted to get paid in money and not cousinly love. As it turns out, Vince actually drove Tracy away because (he thought) Toronto was his show. History will indicate that Tracy McGrady is currently more awesome than every iteration of Vince Carter other than the one that dunked over Frederick Weis. Jerkface Vince Carter, storming back. Just can't seem to stay away.

Being the Vince Carter significant other that you are, it's hard for you to look past the awesomeness of the whole Vince-USA-Frederick-Weis-is-really-tall-France-dunk-awesome affair. But let's do that. Take out the corporate-picnic-day Olympic basketball videos and the telestrator, and a bottle of scotch. Grab a seat, a glass, and some ice. Your boyfriend has always been a real jerk.

Let the record show that the whole screaming leg shake thing (note the telestrator markings I'm making) wasn't completely innocent. That Vince Carter, who was representing his country remember, made the entire country of Russia angry just by playing basketball against them. He was quick to point out that "there was no fight."

Way to go, Vince. You succeeded in not throwing punches at Russians. As I recall, Rocky was congratulated for that, so maybe you're saying you hate Rocky. That's not scoring you any points, if I'm the scorekeeper, and there is only one person here tallying any points, if you get my meaning.

Now, there are arguments to be made in favor of Vince Carter, such as the fact that he very rightly went to receive his diploma from UNC on the morning of a playoff game, necessitating some kind of helicopter-airlift back to the place he was playing later that day. Four years spent in college are more important than a single playoff contest. So, Vince Carter remains a jerk, but a jerk with his priorities in something resembling the correct order. What do we make out of the Vince-MJ All-Star donnybrook? Vince Carter may also have made a decent argument for not surrendering his starting spot in the recent All-Star Game, claiming some brand of popular mandate had given him that spot and he would be doing a disservice to NBA fans by letting a crapulent MJ take his spot. However, Carter managed to do something wrong while doing something right. Carter reiterated his standing as a jerk with principles in this action. The logic behind this one is complicated so put on your magic visionary underpants. OK: I Haaate, as a sports journalism vehicle of the first water, does not truck with the aforementioned MJ nor sanction his actions in any way. But we must say: If Allen Iverson--non-college graduate, bowling alley roughneck, gun owner, purveyor of misogynistic poetry, threatener-of-loved-ones, and general butthead Allen Iverson--offers his starting spot to Jordan out of courtesy, perhaps you might be moved to do the same, before David Stern, who is actually a giant unblinking eye made out of fire, sends out his ring wraiths to burn down Vince Carter's parents' house. It wasn't his stand to make, but he made it anyway. Drop that in your alphabet soup, stir it up and see if the letters V-I-N-C-E = J-E-R-K don't pop up out of the broth like the Loch Ness jerk-monster. Rawrrr.