"To clear the air on this Michael Jordan thing before any questions are asked," said Vince Carter before the 2003 NBA All-Star Game. "I feel he's a legend, the greatest player to ever play the game. That made the decision tough. I respect who he is and what he's about."
At that point, Vince, the leading vote-getter to start at the SG position, went to the locker room with an intention to go by what fans wanted, despite the league encouraging Carter to give up his starting gig to Jordan -- MJ made it clear he was reluctant to the idea as well. But by the time they were in the pregame huddle, Carter changed his mind.
I told him, ‘You’re taking this spot,’ I told him he wasn’t getting me blackballed from the league. … He kept saying, ‘No, no, no. You earned it.’ I said, ‘Yeah … but this is your last one. So you’re gonna take the spot.’ If he didn’t, I was gonna walk back into the tunnel and into the locker room so he wouldn’t have had a choice.
Vince Carter, The Undefeated
Vince was still announced as the starter, something team coach Isiah Thomas felt was necessary for Carter to get the recognition he had earned. But, he was announced with: "This next All-Star has just asked to be replaced in the starting lineup by Michael Jordan." Looking back on it, Vince has no regrets.
"That's a memory that nobody else can talk about," he said during the All The Smoke Podcast. "That can't be duplicated." Michael made sure to return the favor by giving Carter a front-row seat for his favorite MJ moment ever.
He goes on and hits this historic fadeaway and any time that All-Star Game is played on TV or talked about, that memory sticks with me because it was just historic in my mind, historic for all the fans who were watching to see MJ do his thing one more time in the All-Star Game.
Vince Carter, NBA Action
Jordan's fadeaway bucket gave the East a two-point lead with 4.8 seconds remaining in the first overtime. They went on to lose 155-145 in double OT in what was one of the best All-Star Games we've ever seen. But that's not what people remember it for.
For most, the 2003 All-Star Game will always be remembered as the game when Vince Carter gave up his starting spot to Michael Jordan. For Vince, it'll always be the game when he witnessed his favorite MJ moment ever.