Friday, May 7, 2010

Degenerate Friday - Is Vince Carter Ric Flair?

Last night during the Magic-Hawks game, the key player on the floor was not first team All-NBA member Dwight Howard despite his 29 point, 17 rebound effort, or third team All-NBA member Joe Johnson. It was Vince Carter. The 33-year old veteran is the key to the Magic’s goal of winning the NBA title this season as a replacement for Hedo Turkoglu. Carter is needed to be the guy who can create his own shot in crunch time, because down the stretch of a close game Dwight Howard does not have a refined post game and is unreliable at the free throw line (last night not withstanding) and Rashard Lewis is only a spot up shooter. The Magic will need Vinsanity to knock down jumpers, get to the hoop and be able to create offense when the shot clock winds down.

Despite his immense talents, I find it hard to root for Carter. He was an absolute freak of an athlete in college at the University of North Carolina and his career stats are impressive (he is the second-leading scorer in Nets history having only spent 5 seasons in New Jersey). Yet he has always been a moody, pouting player that has the perception of a guy that puts himself above the team. While playing in Toronto he attended his college graduation the morning of game 7 of a playoff series against Philly and ended up missing a game-winning shot at the buzzer. He was accused of risking his team’s chances for his own personal goals. He then made comments when he was traded from the Raptors that were taken to mean he didn’t always give his full effort. His image is very similar to Randy Moss, another guy with as much talent and athleticism as anyone but a lack of passion to give full effort and and pouts his way through the season. If they have their heads on straight, Carter and Moss have the ability to carry their teams to championships but we’re still waiting for either of them to reach that level.

On the other end of the spectrum is a guy like Grant Hill of the Phoenix Suns. Hill came into the league with high expectations that were only tempered by the lack of success of his fellow Duke alumni. Hill immediately went to work and became one of the best players in the game. He gutted out injuries and played through pain, even causing long-term damage that would end up costing him years of being less effective. Yet he has worked his way back to being a vital role player on a team that is easy to root for. He continues to play hard, does not talk or whine about his injuries or his lack of playing time during his recovery. He is well-spoken and a team leader.
To use a wrestling analogy, Grant Hill is the People's Champion, The Rock. He rallies the crowd, plays the good guy and has everyone rooting for him. Let's just hope that Hill doesn't end up doing horrendous Disney movies after a failed attempt to be an action hero. Carter on the other hand is more like Ric Flair, the greatest villain of all time. He has the talent, but his arrogance and lack of concern for the crowd or whether or not he is liked overshadows that natural talent. If Carter could just grow that long blonde hair like the Nature Boy and let out a couple of classic Flair "Whooooo!"s before each game and after each dunk, it would be amazing.

The unfortunate aspect is that I think Carter and the Magic have a much better chance of winning a title this year than the Suns, yet I would much rather see Hill hoisting the trophy than Carter.


Since it is Degenerate Friday, I have to have some action out there……

Cavaliers (-1) over Celtics (Friday night)
This is the game that LeBron James has to win. He cannot come out and be a drama queen or timid with his elbow soreness. He has rubbed it and shot the left-handed free throw so everyone knows just how banged up he is. Is he setting himself up for an excuse to leave Cleveland? “I was injured and the rest of the team couldn’t step up at all, so I can’t win here.” Or is he just building suspense? Kobe Bryant has a bum knee and a broken finger on his shooting hand, yet the media isn’t obsessed with it, and more importantly, you don’t hear Kobe talking about it. If James wants to win a title, tonight is his chance to come out and make a statement that he is going to take this team to the title. The Celtics have the heart of a champion and Ray Allen is playing better than he has in the past two seasons, so they will be ready to defend their home court. Yet the Cavs are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 playoff games as a favorite and 23-7 ATS in games coming off a straight up loss of more than 10 points. The abundance of off days should have given James enough time to rest his elbow and the Cavs will come out and take back their home court advantage.

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