Jordan accepts fellow Tar Heel's offer of starting spotPosted: Sunday February 09, 2003 8:33 PM
Updated: Monday February 10, 2003 3:06 AM
ATLANTA (AP) -- Michael Jordan got to start after all.
In his 14th and final appearance, Jordan started the NBA All-Star Game Sunday night when fellow North Carolina alum Vince Carter turned over his spot in the East lineup.
Jordan said repeatedly -- even before the game -- he didn't want to start in place of those voted in by the fans.
"Guys starting deserve to be there," he said in the East locker room.
Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson both offered their starting roles to Jordan. But Carter, voted in as a starter despite playing only 15 games this season, initially refused to yield his spot, saying it wasn't fair to the fans who voted for him.
Yet minutes before tipoff Sunday night, the P.A. announcer at Philips Arena announced that Jordan would start in Carter's spot.
"My decision was to start," Carter said. "After a while, I sat back and thought about it and said, 'Hey, this is his last one; he is the greatest player, and I'm going to get this opportunity to come out here and play again.
"This is a chance for me to tell all my fans thank you very much for voting for me, but he deserves it, he deserves it," Carter said.
Jordan, who earlier came to center court as the East captain, got a rousing standing ovation during player introductions. Once the game started, however, he missed his first seven shots before hitting an easy layup.
Jordan finished with 20 points on 9-for-27 shooting, but the West beat the East 155-145 in double overtime. Jordan said he's enjoyed the weekend but was ready for it to end.
"Just get it over with," he said. "I'm somewhat embarrassed because I've got a feeling it's going to turn into the Michael Jordan show, which I don't want it to be," he said.
"I'm totallly appreciative of the respect everyone has given
me. I want it to be a fun weekend and a competitive weekend. I
don't want it to be just a patsy."