Over his career, veteran Dallas Mavericks shooting guard Vince Carter has developed a reputation as a player who doesn't much enjoy playing through injury. At times, particularly during his darkest days with the Toronto Raptors, it was even suggested that he exaggerated the severity of his injuries so he wouldn't have to play games. Those accusations are serious, but they stuck.
So it was a little odd when Carter turned another type of false injury into an opportunity to help his team on Thursday night against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland. On the final possession of the first half, Carter missed a jumper that was rebounded by teammate Elton Brand to give the Mavericks the last shot.
Carter appeared to come down in pain, stayed in the corner, and eventually waved off point guard Darren Collison so that he could be considered out of the play. Rookie wing Harrison Barnes then sloughed off Carter to help in defending the Mavs' able-bodied players. Except it turned out that Carter was only faking out the rookie, and he cut to the hoop as soon as Collison passed to Brand in the high post. Carter completed an easy dunk to cut the halftime deficit to 55-53, and Barnes surely learned never to trust him again.
In fairness to Carter, he did come down from the rim a bit gingerly, so it's possible that he was feeling some discomfort. Either way, though, he greatly exaggerated the pain to fool Barnes, and it worked.
Luckily for Carter, he's now 36 years old, an age at which this kind of trickery becomes veteran know-how instead of the action of a good-for-nothing cheat. We'll leave it up to you to decide which verdict he deserves.
The good news for the Warriors was that the basket didn't factor too much in the result. Although they saw a double-digit fourth-quarter lead dwindle to just one point with as few as two seconds left, Jarrett Jack hit two big free throws to push the lead to three. Carter then missed a last-second three to tie, and the Warriors held on for the 100-97 win. I guess VC used up all his good fortune on the dunk.