Over a million people wanted to see Vince Carter start in the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 9.
The annual showcase of professional basketball talent is decided by fan-based balloting, and starters are chosen by popular vote.
Vince Carter was a top vote-getter. Michael Jordan was not.
But a mass of critics came out of the woodwork and pressured Carter into doing the “right thing” and stepping down to the larger-than-life Jordan.
Yes, Carter played only 13 games this season due to injury, and yes, this was Jordan’s final All-Star game in the NBA.
But who cares? The fans didn’t, because they voted overwhelmingly for Carter.
There are no rules saying that an individual must play a certain amount of games to participate in the All-Star game.
So now, when Carter is finally up and running, he’s supposed to bow down and turn his back on the million NBA fanatics who voted for him? That’s pretty harsh.
Carter countered all of his opponents and stood confidently in his starting position.
After recognizing that it was a no-win situation, Carter said, “There were over a million plus people who had confidence in me and felt I should be out there.
To turn my back on them would be a lot worse because I still would have to see those million plus people somewhere throughout the season.
A man who makes his decision has to stand by his decision.”
Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady, two of the East’s five starters offered their spots to Jordan.
Isaiah Thomas, the East’s head-coach was even quoted as saying, “Michael Jordan should never come off the bench in an All-Star game.”
But Carter stood strong, and no one applauded louder than I did. Then disaster struck.
As the game was set to begin, and the announcer led each of the 24 players onto the court, Carter’s name came up.
And he crumbled.
At the last minute, Carter put his tail between his legs and handed the votes of a million fans over to Jordan.
Was it an act of diplomacy? Maybe it was an act of hypocrisy instead.
Jordan started for the Eastern squad (who won four of the last six All-Star games) and bumbled around.
He threw up his first seven shots and missed them all.
During the first 11 minutes he was 2-for-10. He even blew a patented Jordan dunk.
But that was only the beginning.
The East literally handed him all of the playing time he wanted, as well as the final shot when the game was tied at 120.
He shot 9-27 throughout the game, and the West won in double overtime – 155-145.
Not only did the East lose, but Jordan played horribly.
Carter went back on his word, and a million fans were left wondering what happened.
When it came to basketball, Jordan was never given anything.
He earned every point, accolade and championship ring with his hard work and determination.
It’s a shame that during his final season, media attention and harsh criticism allowed him to start.
Michael Jordan is one of the greatest to ever play the game, and Vince Carter has the potential to be.
But sadly, their collective decision was anything but great.
Brandon Lausch can be reached at Goskateboarding2000@hotmail.com.