Saturday , Feb , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

16th Edition – 02/28/2004

“It’s over!” Those were the words uttered by Vince Carter after one of his mesmerizing dunks in the 2000 Slam-Dunk Contest. And who could argue? His rim rattling displays of thunder had viewers wondering whether he was the greatest dunker of all time. He was catapulted to superstardom afterwards, and had the basketball world in the palm of his hand. Carter was next in line to become the heir apparent to you know who. And with his North Carolina lineage, the possibilities seemed reasonable.

16th Edition - 02/28/2004A six foot five swingman with an explosive first step, incredible leaping ability, and a flare for the dramatic. Vinsanity was captivating. Leaving school early to declare himself eligible for the NBA Draft turned out to be the right decision. Especially considering Antawn Jamison was the Tar Heel’s star player that season. But a funny thing happened after the ball clanged off the rim in Game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the 76ers. All of a sudden, Carter was no longer invincible. The critics emerged, his clout around the league diminished, and his body began to betray him. And it seems like everything can be traced back to that fateful trip to pick up his college diploma. Whoever said a college degree could lead to an abundance of opportunities should’ve left a disclaimer stating: Unless you’ve already reached the top without it. All joking aside, things haven’t been the same for Carter since that day. The Artist Formerly Known as Air Canada seems to have been grounded. Sprained knees, shaky quads, and twisted ankles have led observers to question his toughness and desire. Charles Barkley recently referred to him as “Half-Man Half-A Season,” alluding to Carter’s unfortunate inability to stay healthy. How ill is that (no pun intended)? At any rate, it’s time for him to right the ship. When he recovers from his latest ankle ailment, Vince Carter needs to return to his “pre-degree” form and let the b-ball world know that he isn’t a star who flamed out. Otherwise, it may truly be over. As The League Happens –Does the addition of Rasheed Wallace improve the Pistons? Yes. Are they one of the favorites to come out of the east? Yes. Will they win the Glory? No! Why? BECAUSE I SAID SO! –This just in: THE KNICKS STILL SUCK!!! Of course Allan Houston is out with a bum knee and their new acquisitions still need to get acclimated, but I gotta call it like I see it and…THEY SUCK. –After witnessing the impact All-Star Weekend had on my beloved city, it has become abundantly clear to me that the jersey craze must end…IMMEDIATELY…PLEASE! It has gotten surdiculous. Besides, what true sports fan could wear the jersey of a player who doesn’t or never has played for their favorite team? –FLASHBACK: Tracy McGrady kicking the ball into the stands twice reminded me of when The Rifleman Chuck Person did the same thing in 1994 against the Bulls. The difference is Chuck’s tirade was believable, McGrady’s seemed mad phony. –Is it me or does every star swingman in the NBA go at Kobe as if their lives depended on it? The other day when the Lakers played the Nuggets, you would’ve thought Carmelo was possessed with the spirit of Bruce Bowen the way he tried to lock Kobe down whenever they matched up. I’ve never seen Carmelo attempt to play defense THAT hard. Players may not admit to it, but actions speak louder than words. Every player at the two and three spot has to measure up against #8. –I may be going out on a limb, but I’m thinking some folks in the Boston Celtics’ front office weren’t too eager to see Vin Baker overcome his alcoholism. They were a little too quick to void his contract. –Jacob “The Jeweler,” the famed jewelry designer to rappers has entered the NBA–literally. NBA watches crafted by him will be sold in NBA gift shops ranging from $6,000-$13,000. Something just doesn’t feel right about this. –Now that “The Streak” is over, let the downfall of the New Jersey Nets commence! –Negotiations of a contract extension between the Lakers and Shaquille O’Neal have stalled. Shaq wants $9.5 million more than the organization is offering. Now Shaq is blaming General Manager Mitch Kupchak for the impasse and said things like, “The general manager we have needs to take notes from me…” Notice a pattern developing? When Shaq doesn’t get what he wants, someone else is at fault. I love him, I love him not, I love him… –The Hawks announced that they will not bring guard Stephen Jackson back next season. I bet that $10 million contract that he TURNED DOWN from the Spurs last off-season looks a lot tastier now. –I didn’t see Doug Christie signal his wife once in the game against the Lakers. Is there trouble in paradise? Just kidding. –I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Dwyane Wade is official! –They gave Mark Cuban a reality show… NBA referees are protesting… and Tyra Banks is singing… The world is a scary place. 5000