Oakley rips Carter on eve of Raptors' Game 4
Updated: Wednesday May 02, 2001 8:48 AM
TORONTO (AP) -- Another dose of "Anti-Vinsanity" struck the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday as Charles Oakley criticized teammate Vince Carter for trying to deflect attention away from himself and onto the team as a whole.
"All the plays go through Vince. The focus on Vince has been there all year. You can't shy away from it now," Oakley said. "This is the time you have to step up and be a man about it, you know?
"When they made the Dream Team, he went; all 12 of us didn't go. When they do commercials, we don't go. He goes," Oakley said.
Carter is shooting a shade under 31 percent in the series and averaging just 18.3 points -- almost a 10-point drop-off from his scoring average during the regular season.
The best-of-five series resumes Wednesday night with the Knicks leading 2-1, and Carter continues to insist that all blame and all praise be shared collectively, not individually.
"It's still a team game," Carter said. "I'm not going to win a playoff game by myself, and I'm not going to win a playoff series by myself ... so I'm not going to let anybody sit here and say it's all about Vince, Vince, Vince."
Before the first playoff game against the Knicks, Carter said he had "nothing to prove." It was somewhat of a mouthful for a player who shot 30 percent from the field and was swept out of the first-round a year earlier.
After a poor performance in Game 1, he refused to answer any questions about himself. After Toronto's loss in Game 3, he pulled the same stunt during postgame interviews.
The criticism of Carter has been building steadily throughout this series, and it even reared its head Tuesday in this Carter-friendly, hockey-mad city that often seems more concerned with whether Carter will leave as a free agent in 2003 that whether the Raptors will win this series.
In a comparison of Carter and Mats Sundin of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, the tabloid Toronto Sun ran a front-page headline reading: "Mats is Hot! Vince is Not!"
"I think it's fair if he doesn't play well to say it, but at the same time, I'm going to encourage him and try to get him ready," Raptors head coach Lenny Wilkens said. "He is a little sensitive, but there's nothing wrong with that."
Somewhere during the past 16 months, Carter became uncomfortable being a one-man show the way he was at All-Star Weekend in 2000. It was there that he won the slam-dunk contest with so much showmanship and flair that he was quickly billed as the NBA's next rising superstar.
Carter didn't enter this year's dunk contest because he said he wanted to be known as more than a dunker.
On Tuesday, he said he wanted to be known as more than a scorer.
"I think you guys put too much emphasis on scoring. What happened to the all-around players? They don't get the credit anymore," Carter said. "That's what I'm trying to be, not just a scorer."
Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy has pointed out that Carter shouldn't be judged solely by his 45 missed shots in 65 attempts, including eight of nine misses from 3-point range.
"Any time a great player struggles, you give some credit to the defense and some credit to him missing shots he would normally make. That being said, I don't judge a guy's play just by his shooting percentage. Twenty points, nine rebounds, four assists, 11 free throws -- most people would say that's pretty good," Van Gundy said.
Oakley criticized Carter publicly after he shot 5-for-22 in Game 1, and Knicks 12th man Rick Brunson even offered a peek inside what the Knicks -- or at least one of them -- really think.
"Vince Carter: no heart! Me, I've got heart," the constantly trash-talking Brunson yelled in New York's locker room prior to Game 2 before being scolded by teammate Othella Harrington for making such inflammatory remarks in front of reporters.
Questions about Carter's shortcomings in this series have been answered by Carter with little more than shrugs and dismissive one-liners about how it's all about the team. If Carter could score as well as he can shrug, the Raptors might already be awaiting the outcome of the Pacers-76ers series to see who their next opponent will be.
"I've never won a game by myself; I've helped," Carter said. "I've put points together to help us win, but I haven't scored all 80 or all 90 points. So I don't see it as a one-person show."