Raptors Criticize Carter After Admission

Friday, January 7th 2005, 6:58 pm

By: News On 6

TORONTO (AP) _ Vince Carter's former teammates were dismayed Friday after hearing him admit he didn't always try his hardest when he played for the Toronto Raptors.

In an interview broadcast Thursday on TNT, network analyst John Thompson asked Carter if he pushed himself as hard as he should have in Toronto.

``In years past, no,'' said Carter, acquired by the New Jersey Nets on Dec 17. ``I was fortunate to have the talent ... you get spoiled when you're able to do a lot of things. You see that you don't have to work at it.

``Now, with the all the injuries, I have to work harder. I'm a little hungrier. Getting a fresh start has made me want to attack the basket.''

Many have questioned Carter's dedication, his commitment to offseason conditioning and his desire to improve, but some where were surprised to hear Carter acknowledge it.

``It's a reflection on him and his character,'' Raptors guard Rafer Alston said. ``Is he a guy that you can go to war with night in and night out? That's what a lot of people are going to be questioning.''

Alston also suggested that Carter cost the Raptors games with his lack of effort.

``It hurts,'' Alston said. ``I don't know if a player who is considered an All-Star and has so many fan votes going into All-Star week wants to have that on his rap sheet.''

Carter has played well since being traded for Alonzo Mourning, Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first-round draft picks. He is averaging 22.5 points in 40.3 minutes with New Jersey, compared to 15.9 points in 30.4 minutes with the Raptors.

Toronto guard Morris Peterson was shocked when he watched the interview on television.

``It caught me off guard, being a professional player that's something I always pride myself on,'' Peterson said. ``I can sleep better at night knowing I give it everything I can.''

``You could tell he wasn't playing his best,'' Peterson said.

Toronto coach Sam Mitchell didn't want to talk about Carter.

``That's between Vince and his conscience,'' Mitchell said.

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