More than three months have passed since Vince Carter joined the Orlando Magic, his de facto hometown team (he grew up in nearby Daytona Beach), in a draft-night trade. And although he was so excited to learn about that trade that he ran outside screaming with joy, that initial jubilation has subsided. Now, it's time to go to work.
When Carter made himself available yesterday, the first thing any reporter asked him to do was "talk about being home." And rather than responding with the usual platitudes, Carter gave a more revealing answer:
Ain't much to talk about. It's been exciting, it's been an exciting summer, just coming here. It's just really hard to explain [....] It's been wonderful. The transition's been easy.
Another reporter asked him if he feels any pressure to produce in his first season with the Magic.
I don't put pressure on myself. I just come to play, each and every day. I've developed thick skin over the years [...] I feel comfortable with my role here.
Q: Coach wants you to be Vince Carter. What does that mean?
Just play. Come out there, make plays for the other guys and in crunch time I've never been afraid to take a big shot and I've never been afraid to pass to the open guy for a big shot. Just be aggressive and make plays.
Q: Vince, besides being home, just how enticing was it for you to play with a guy like Dwight [Howard]?
I didn't have a choice. It's not like I chose to come here. I was brought here. It's fun. I've never had the opportunity to play with a big man who's dominant... like Dwight.
Perhaps the biggest indication of Vince's singular focus on what the Magic can do came in this exchange with one reporter, in which Carter declined to comment on the potential this Magic team has to improve on last year's team:
Q: Vince, the most popular question among fans right now is, 'Is this team gonna be better than last year?' On paper, does it look better than last year?
That's up to you guys to decide. I mean...
What about you?
That's up to you guys to decide. For us, I think, we feel like we have a pretty good basketball team, and everybody jells well. In that locker room, everybody gets along and has a good time. And that's the most important thing, and it carries over to the court.
It indeed sounds like Vince is ready for the season to start, as he knows his role and he's comfortable with his new teammates. It's time to go to work.