Michael Jordan played his final All-Star game in 2003 but many will agree that it was his name and legacy that put him there and not his performance. Nevertheless, Vince Carter, who was supposedly the starting small forward for the East at the time, thought it was still a “no-brainer” for MJ to start in the last All-Star game of his illustrious career.
Addressing the issue
That season, Carter only played 43 games, while Jordan showed up in all 82 outings for Washington. Well aware of the buzz it will generate, let alone we’re talking about MJ, the greatest player of all time, “Air Canada” knew he had to address the subject in front of the media. He made it clear to everybody that before anybody suggests any narrative or undertone, he opted to make that gesture as it was the right thing to do to honor Jordan and his legacy.
"To clear the air on this Michael Jordan thing before any questions are asked. 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,” Carter said in 2003.
There were conversations that should’ve never taken place
Sixteen years later, Carter reflected on it and realized he even talked to the then-NBA commissioner David Stern about that, but clearly, there was nothing to talk about as nobody in their right mind would think Jordan didn’t deserve homage in that All-Star game.
Looking back, “Vinsanity” reckoned that the hardest part of it wasn’t even explaining the essence of his gesture, but convincing Jordan himself to go out there and play as a starter.
“We got to All-Star weekend and I had a brief conversation with David Stern and we kind of talked about it, but I felt there was nothing to talk about,” Carter told NBA.com about giving Jordan his starting lineup spot in 2003. “That’s just a no-brainer for me to let MJ [start]. I said the problem is going to be you guys convincing him. I just had a feeling he wouldn’t go for it. I kind of briefly mentioned it to him and said, ‘Hey man, you’re starting.’ He said, ‘No, you earned that.’
“So right before the lineups I said, ‘MJ, you are starting. Point blank period. You’re starting.’ And I told him I was going to walk to the back so he couldn’t make me start because I wasn’t going to be there. We went back and forth. He goes out there' I felt like once they called his name he had to go.”
Truly a class act, Vince!