As a huge VC fan, even at this point (well, not so much at this point but you get the idea), a basketball fan might wonder what's going on with it. As a person of high importance on this blog, you know, a MR. ORNG kind of importance to the Suns team (basically none), I need to explain what's going on. Because, you know, people won't be able to sleep at night thinking "oh man, why is Raptorel a fan of VC???".
Yeah right, I'm kidding. Was the explanation really necessary? Whatever.
So anyway, what's going on?
Well, I started watching basketball ~2001, and watched the Sixers vs Lakers games at 7 AM in the morning. The time zone difference in Romania vs. Eastern Coast Time is 7 hours, and vs Phoenix time about 9 hours.
So I was in the 10-11th grade at that time and watching the NBA for like the first time. When I was even younger, I used to play with one of my neighborgh's basketball in front of my building, without a hoop or anything, just dribbling, and had another neighbourgh saying "oh, that's what Jordan does" (dribbling etc). So I was like "Jordan? The heck with him!". I wasn't interested in watching basketball at all.
I watched the Lakers - Sixers finals, thought it was... "decent". I kept on hearing this "Iverson" thing, I had no idea who Iverson is and why people were saying he's the "MVP", whatever that was meaning. "This 6'0 kid? Are you kidDING me?". I couldn't understand "what's so special about that guy?".
And then slowly I started to play more ball at my high school, started to play some basketball games on my PC etc, so it became more interesting. In these games I was playing (one was called Fox Basketball 2000 I think) the commentators were Greg Papa and Doc Rivers. And I was playing with the Lakers. The only players I kind of knew where Kobe and Shaq, so I was playing with them. So then at one point I "played" vs the Raptors and Vince was dunking on me all the time. I can still remember Greg Papa saying "Vince Carter throws it down" or "Posterizeeeeeed!". I was like "man, this is kind of cool, who is this guy?".
So I started to watch the NBA more carefully from that point on, enter nba.com late in the night (when the phone cost was low, I was using a phone modem at that time to access the internet, it was a real struggle, a page would open in about 2 minutes if you were lucky enough) and started to watch Vince around the NBA, what the Raptors were doing etc. Nothing too big or anything in terms of passion, just usual "common interest" about the subject. At that time I was jumping around 12 inches and touching the net (in real life, obviously) was really an event for me. I was 6'0 at that time, and I'm 6'0 today too (haven't grown in height since 15 years old).
I also had a friend I was playing basketball with and at ~16 years old I started to actually touch the rim every now and then. Not consistent, I was usually 2-3 inches away from the rim but SOMETIMES I could touch the rim. So I thought "it would be so cool to dunk like VC does". Then my friend started to say I will never ever dunk in my life, let alone VC level. That kind of got me started to train and have a passion about it.
Then after a while, I heard Vince was traded to the Nets. I was like "Oh man, to the Nets??? WHY???". I was so used to see him be an icon for the Raptors I was sad he was traded. I was feeling he has lost his "iconic" identity.
Then I started to actually watch the Nets. I upgraded my Internet connection as the Internet stuff was rapidly evolving, now I could watch games, download them off torrents etc. So I started to watch the Nets games. And as I was watching him play, I started to feel really good. He kind of started to represent my "style" or "approach" about the game on the highest stage of basketball, against the best defenders in the world, doing some of the most crazy stuff in the world. I always hated "boring" and "fundamental" basketball, so he gave me an alternative to that, hitting crazy shot after crazy shot, having a relaxed demeanor about the game while at the same time scoring 40. He had just a great attitude that made me feel good watching him play. And then - he was killing everybody on the court while laughing and joking in between, and just being "different" from everybody else.
His dunks really made me start to train and read and study about jumping, so now I have about ~10 years of continuos reading and training for athleticism just because of him. I'm the most "known" "vertical jump" trainer in Romania... every "serious" dunker usually asks me about how to train for a higher VJ etc. That because of my obsession about VJ ever since seeing VC do the stuff he does (did). So in the meantime, with training, got my vert to about 36 inches and I was throwing down dunks at the end of 12th grade coming up at high speeds and dunking. My friend who said I would never dunk wasn't too happy about it but I know that in his mind he was like "well... he did it".
Now that's not all. I used to stay up late and watch the Nets play live with another friend I met on the internet, from another city, and comment all game long. These were such great times I can't even describe. As a person, I don't really have too many "things" that make me happy. I don't get excited about stuff that "normal" people get excited, I don't go to clubs, I'm not really into searching for women (no, no, I'm not gay), I don't really enjoy movies that much, I kind of sing but I'm keeping that pretty much private, I just don't enjoy too many things. But I have always genuninely enjoyed watching Vince and the Nets play. It was such a GREAT thing to see, how great Vince and Kidd were working together, the connection between the two, how "different" they were playing together vs. the rest of the "boring" league and so on. It can't really be explained.
So he really bought that happiness to me that nothing else was able to bring me. It just happened that way. And I think people are so quick to forget the good times, and maybe the bad times too. I will never forget what he bought me, even though he doesn't know I exist/doesn't care or whatever. I can't deny that he made me happy and I want to acknowledge that.
When there are so few things that make you happy, you become so much more aware about them, like really recognizing them and appreciate them. And I still feel good watching him. Not now as he struggles, but whenever he shoots, in my mind, I see it go in. The images of the past keep on coming to my head and I can't help but root for VC.
So VC, for me, is like a screwed-up boyfriend for some women: even if he's screwed up, you still love him and still hope/believe he's going to get it right. Now of course that doesn't happen because people usually never change, but you can't help but believe it will happen. And you're willing to forgive stuff and give him a second chance.
With VC it was always a matter of redemption. He failed here, but this is his time for redemption. And he delivered. Then he failed again. Then he delivered. Etc.
But for his play style, that's bound to happen. Whatever it was happening, you could be sure he'll just give you a show you'll never forget, and he was up to that task again and again in his Nets days.
So to me - he gave me what few other people, if any, gave me - happiness. If that's "right" or not, if my goals/targets in terms of what to expect and what to enjoy in life in general are "right" or not, that's nobody's business. It's just a personal, subjective thing that nobody can decide but yourself. I can't do anything else but acknowledge the facts and just be open about it. That's all.