| The NBA’s product was more stale than Chris Elliott’s. NBA games had the pace of badminton, the thrill of Emo Phillips on Sudafed, and the inevitability of George W. Bush intersecting with a pile of cocaine. Courtside seats at the new Staples Center in L.A. run over $1,100 per game, and there are more commercials during a single NBC broadcast than on Tiger Woods’ entire self-whoring resume. Therefore, you were likelier to stumble across a buzz licking psychedelic toads than getting revved up about an actual game. And all that was before you counted the Ahmad Rashad factor.
But not anymore.
Vince Carter, small forward for the Toronto Raptors, is officially the next-next-next-next-next-next-Michael Jordan. He is Jordan’s size. He has a younger Jordan’s ups. He dunks like Jordan’s hot wet dreams. He even went to Jordan’s own North Carolina. If he is not The League, the way Michael was The League, David Stern will scatter his own intestines to the four winds (one of which, presumably, would blow guts in the direction of Dennis Rodman, who keeps claiming that he wants to have a kinky free-for-all with the corpulent commish.)
Yes, like Keanu Reeves before him, Carter is The Chosen One. This is his second year in the league, and he already gets all the calls. He has no braids or tattoos, and were he to acquire either, you can be certain the Trilateral Commission (Stern, David Falk and G.E. chairman Jack Welch) would come knocking, ‘Fro picks and skin-scrubbing lasers in tow. Gatorade, Kellogg’s, Spalding and Skybox have tipped the iceberg of his forthcoming endorsement life. And a couple weeks ago, the Slam Dunk Contest at this year’s All Star Game demonstrated that Vince is both the Stuff---the kid can play---and the Fluff.
Carter’s coming-out party was last Sunday, when the NBC, er, the NBA moved a 76ers-Knicks game three hours back, so that the entire nation could watch Sir Vince-alot. That’s right: a game was moved, and then Carter, whose Raptors were playing a pretty good Phoenix team, proceeded to score 51 points (in between commercials featuring Jeff Gordon and his babe-o-licious wife selling glorified Frito Pie). Coincidence? Heh. How naive. You probably still think this year’s Super Bowl wasn’t fixed.
Don’t get us wrong. We love the guy. We’ve loved him since college, and since 1998, when he went fifth in the Draft, but first in our hearts (Olowokandi? Bibby? Lafrentz? Jamison?). He really is good. But is he this good?
Regardless, the decision’s been made: the NBA has hitched its wagon to a plowhorse not-named Michael. We predicted the kid would be great. Now we predict that you’re gonna get really, really sick of him.