Vince Carter wants to see absent NBA stars play in World Cup but respects their decision

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HAVING had the chance to represent the United States in international basketball competitions, including a memorable one at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, National Basketball Association veteran star Vince Carter said he would love to see league stars don the national colors for the “Star-Spangled Banner” but understands and respects their decision for declining considering the circumstances they are in.

Speaking at a global media conference for the Jr. NBA Global Championships happening this week where he is part of the broadcasting team, eight-time NBA All-Star Carter was asked for his thoughts on the decision of some established league superstars not to play for the US in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China later this month.

Among the notable names to decline were Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards.

In their place are a number of young veterans and up-and-coming stars like Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors, Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers, Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. Coach of the team is the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Poppovich.

Mr. Carter, who will be playing once again for the Atlanta Hawks next season, his is 22nd year in the NBA, said that he understands where the players who dropped out were coming from, including how they were looking after their health, and respects their decision.

“I think it’s preference. You have to kind of look at the background of the player as far as injuries. Some of these guys feel like they’ve played a lot of games in a lot of months, have been dedicated to playing the game, and they don’t really get the same amount of time off as some of the guys who maybe didn’t play deep into the playoffs or are not getting that call to play on an Olympic team of some sort…,” said Mr. Carter in the conference call, the transcript of which was shared to BusinessWorld.

“Now, it’s an honor to play, and I think sometimes they’re worried about when the actual Olympics comes around instead of the qualifying. A lot of these guys are just trying to stay injury-free or are just fatigued in general… I recall back in my time playing in the Olympics, the gold medal game, our training camp had already started. Obviously, they’ve adjusted that. But a lot of these guys are now playing so many games in the NBA season, playing all the preseason, playing all of the regular season and of course some like the Steph Curry of the Warriors are playing into the Finals or even playing in the Conference Finals. That’s a lot of basketball that these guys are playing. To ask them to do that, it’s a tough decision, I’m sure, because of the loyalty to your team. You have a job to do as the star player to make sure they’re ready to go at the beginning of the year,” he added.

Mr. Carter, 42, also shared that he is excited for next season especially off the heels of a flurry of player movements this offseason and the number of good rookies coming in.

“I don’t think there was anything like that (player movements). I think it was like 206 players that were free agents, 40 percent player movement. That’s insane. I think what it’s done, I think they’re going to gain more fans. Well, I think they’re going to gain more viewers because of the parity… You’re not sure who’s going to win it. I think now they’re going to gain more viewers because of it. You have to kind of watch and see how this plays out. I think it’s just great for the NBA. It’s just great to see,” he said of busy free agency.

“There are [also] a lot of great rookies out there. It’s easy to say Zion [Williamson] and [Ja] Morant. I got the opportunity to have a conversation with RJ Barrett, so I’ve gotten to know him well… I’m just interested to see these top five guys, top eight players who are really talked about,” Mr. Carter added, turning his attention to the rookies.

The Jr. NBA Global Championships happens from Aug. 6 to 11 in Orlando, Florida. The Philippines is represented in it by Jr. NBA Philippines 2019 standouts Heinz Gabriel Demisana, Sebastian Reyes, Lionel Matthew Rubico and lone Filipina Camille Nolasco who are all part of the team from Asia-Pacific. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo