Originally Posted by Brick Rick
I remember when Vince took a plane to attend his graduation ceremony on the same day that he was to play in game 7 of the eastern semi-finals against the Sixers (the year they went to the finals and lost to the Lakers) in 2001.
The Raptors lost by one point with Vince missing the buzzer beater. He shot I think 6 for 18 that game. He was criticized heavily for this at the time by the fans and the media.
As a Raptor fan, I was annoyed by this move myself as all sorts of what-ifs entered my mind. What if Vince didn't board that plane and shot 7 for 18 or better that night because he wasn't as tired? Raptors make the east finals, beat the bucks and play in the NBA finals against the Lakers.
This example illustrates the primary difference between Vince and Kobe/MJ: Vince doesn't love the game as much as Kobe/MJ.
The what-if's go both ways, to be honest. What if Vince Carter was able to muster 6-18 (as opposed to say, 4-18) because he was able to push himself further than normal, drawing up extra focus knowing he had to prove the graduation thing was a non-issue?
Further, to come back to that Game 7, I've watched it quite a few times and after the early series explosions by both Carter and Allen Iverson, both teams appeared dead set in that final contest to allow anything but
for those players to have an opportunity to get clean looks at the basket. Toronto and Philly were both employing double and/or triple teams whenever they possibly could.
And sure, you may be saying every star sees double teams at some point, but here, as opposed to when we watch the Lakers or 90's Bulls play, the difference was neither the Raptors nor the 76ers were particularly afraid of the offensive prowess of anyone else on the opposition's team except for the stars themselves. A double team of Carter forced passes to the likes of Alvin Williams and Morris Peterson, big deal. Iverson was passing to Aaron McKie, Jumaine Jones and Eric Snow. None of those perimeter guys tend to strike fear into the eyes of opponents.
To be real, from watching that game a few times, it truly seems both players tried valiantly to be the heroes and take the shots people seemed to think they were supposed to take. Sure, Vince Carter shot 6-18, but Allen Iverson went 8-27. It was a gross, classic early 2000's grind-it-out type of contest. And again, both players were doing everything possible for their team to win. Vince's poor shooting led to just a 20 point outing, but he did
have 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks to go alongside.
I always thought the graduation thing was so completely and entirely overblown. For every player who's flown a few hours to their college graduation on gameday, I'm sure there's 12 million who've played Game 7's mere hours after ingesting copious amounts of drugs and/or alcohol, but rarely have I heard any of those pre-game shenanigans receive the attention Carter's did. And maybe that's because players are able to allow their bodies to recover in time, but I think the same could have been argued in Carter's sake (if Carter's body suffered any affects at all to begin with).
The true difference in that Game 7, to me, was the supporting cast. I honestly felt each star did all they possibly could have done in their positions. Iverson had a terrible shooting night, but he picked up 16 assists in exchange, in large thanks to the McKie, Snow, Jones trio shooting a combined 19-36, in contrast to Carter's Williams/Peterson/Childs connection going 11-26. Sometimes, and I know this is going to sound crazy, but sometimes the team as a whole is most responsible for a team's success, not a star's ability to make or miss a single shot.