Vince Carter was once hailed as the next Michael Jordan. That was an easy comparison to make, considering Carter and Jordan both went to North Carolina and both had a sweet jump shot at a very early age. Carter wowed the league in the 2000 Slam Dunk Competition, and the "next Michael" cries intensified. Carter was on his way to stardom.
That's coming to an end in a hurry.
While playing for Toronto in 2001, he earned the wrath of Raptors fans and became the focal point of multiple hours of stories on the sports page when he chose to leave the team during the playoffs to attend his own graduation ceremony in Carolina. A family member dies or grows ill, the world supports you when you must leave the team briefly. But when you're leaving to put on a cap and gown for a purely symbolic ceremony, you get pistol-whipped. Raptor fans didn't forgive him, especially when he didn't show up for Game 7 until 10 minutes before tip off and ended up missing 2/3rds of his shots in a season-ending loss. He also missed a potential game-winner with 2 seconds to play against Philly.
The next thing Carter did for the Raptors was sign a six-year extension for 94 million dollars. Cue the entry of a LOT more angry Canadians.
Carter began getting a reputation as injury-prone and weak. He didn't help that much when he was asked why he had been trying fewer dunks during games, choosing to go for layups instead. His answer was "I don't want to dunk anymore." Not winning hearts and minds, eh Vince?
"No, no. I said Vince CHASE is coming to Toronto for a film festival. Not that other guy."
In late December 2004, there were allegations that Carter tipped off the opposing Seattle SuperSonics (the Raptors' opponents on November 19, 2004) of an upcoming Raptors play by yelling "It's a flare! It's a flare!". (source, Wikipedia)
When he was traded to New Jersey, Raptor fans were angry and relieved. The relief turned to pure anger when Carter admitted to not trying very hard towards the end of his Toronto tenure. That just created an entire city full of people ready and willing to crush VC at any given moment.
But his whining and crying over every minute whistle has not ceased, and fans of opposing teams have grown tired of his antics. His reputation is increasing as a crybaby. Last night, he let Sasha Pavlovic get into his head and he started jawing at the Cavaliers guard. Pavlovic did the right thing, cupping his ear as if he was saying "I can't hear you".
At the end of the game, Carter never even got a shot off. The ball was slightly slapped by Eric Snow, and as it bounced away from Vince, he swatted at it and sent it out of bounds along with his team's hopes of advancing. A future Michael Jordan would have turned and hit the game-winning shot, especially against Cleveland, who ALWAYS got a game-winner out of MJ. But he never even got to shoot it.
On the way out of the New Jersey parking lot last night, Carter was swarmed by angry Nets fans who repeatedly slapped his car with plastic noisemakers. Keep in mind that the game is usually over for more than 60-90 minutes before players shower, get dressed, and finish interviews, especially players like Carter who will get a lot of media attention. These fans actually stuck around long enough to verbally taunt their star player. That's dedication and that's anger.
With New Jersey fans turning on Carter, he's going to have trouble. This is a guy who might be headed for disaster....maybe. But one thing I'm certain of is he's no Michael Jordan. And he's got a LOT of people who don't like him very much. And 20,000 of them will be screaming at him in 30 hours.