Before becoming the only NBA player in history to play for 22 seasons throughout four different decades, Vince Carter was a true superstar of the Toronto Raptors. Having played arguably his most celebrated seasons with the team from Toronto, Carter established a good relationship with some of his teammates, including Morris Peterson.
Even when "Air Canada" had already left for the New Jersey Nets, Carter and Peterson were still close pals. That is why "Mo Pete" was furious when he got tossed for playfully slapping Carter back in the 2005/06 season.
The ref should've known better
In a regular-season game between the New Jersey Nets and the Raptors at the Air Canada center, now Scotiabank Arena, Carter and Peterson were manning each other for most of the first half. There was nothing beyond ordinary during the game until "Vinsanity" slapped Peterson during a dead ball in the dying seconds of the second quarter.
Peterson, who was evidently annoyed by the slap as he seemed to be in a serious mode, slapped Carter back. One of the referees in charge, Steve Javie, did not see Carter's slap and only saw Peterson's retaliation. Assuming it was an unsportsmanlike act, Javie called a T on "Mo Pete."
As expected, Peterson didn't like it and went ballistic. He began yelling at Javie, who instantly gave him a second technical foul, resulting in an ejection.
On the replay, it became clear to everyone that both players were just messing around, but unfortunately, Javie didn't know that Carter and Peterson were best of friends. And the damage has already been done.
The NBA respected Carter and Peterson's friendship
In the wake of the infamous incident, the media was waiting for the NBA's verdict or comment. Peterson admitted that he was "upset" with how Javie viewed and handled the situation, but he's totally cool with Carter. More importantly, he's ready to move on from it.
The good thing was that the NBA acknowledged Carter and Peterson's friendship and did not hand any fine or suspension.
"I got a chance to talk to [then NBA senior vice president of basketball operations] Stu Jackson," Peterson told ESPN. "They reviewed everything and looked over everything and felt like there isn't going to be a fine assessed to me. That's the good news."
"I was upset about the first technical foul," he added. "Vince just told me, 'Don't worry about it, don't sweat it.' We always joke around. It was just an unfortunate break for me. I just want to put yesterday behind."
While the incident was unfortunate for both Carter and Peterson, the pair moved on from it like true friends and professionals. And indeed, they both learned when to draw the line between fooling around and playing the game.