November 2002: Vince Carter Rehabs Knee at Nelly Concert
Hindsight is a bitch. You don't have it when you need it, and when you get it, it's too late. Such is the case of Vince Carter at the Nelly concert. Early in the 2002-2003 season, Carter was supposed to be at home rehabilitating his surgically repaired knee, when he popped up on stage with Nelly, dancing during the rapper's concert in Toronto. Meanwhile, the undermanned Raptors were getting blown out in Atlanta by the Hawks.
To this point, sentiment was growing that Carter did not have the heart or desire to lead his team (he was a captain, after all) to the playoffs. And there were hints—like Carter joking with Kobe Bryant after a loss to the Lakers, and asking Michael Jordan for his phone number during a game against the Bulls—but these events were more curious than conclusive. For many, however, the Nelly episode finally congealed these random clues into a clear and obvious conclusion: Carter was far more interested in the rewards of NBA stardom, than the responsibilities that came with it.
When finally faced with this assessment, Carter responded to his critics: "Who cares? If they're not talking about me, that means they forgot about me. It was a concert. I went there to enjoy it just like anybody else. I'm a grown man. They don't pay my bills. They don't make decisions for me."
Well VC, at the time, I did care. And as much as I try to forget, I can't. You were not like anybody else, and you were certainly not a grown man. You were a teet-suckling momma's boy who basked in the unearned glow of being appointed the Air Apparent for far too long. Can you imagine for a second Michael Jordan jumping on stage during the Bull's 72-win season and doing the running man with Color Me Badd? And sure, you absolutely had the freedom to make your own decisions, but couldn't you have rehabbed your knee like anyone else in the NBA: by staying home, playing XBOX, and smoking weed? And while I did not pay your bills, the money I spent on Raptor tickets and Carter merchandise eventually made its way into your pockets. But you should know that my #15 jersey now has a new name embroidered into the back: FRAUD.
Fuck that felt good.