3 Toronto Raptors There's a new old hand at point guard, and that should be a very good thing for Vince Carter

October 30, 2000

Mark Jackson was stripping the tape from his ankles after
practice on the second day of training camp when a ball boy
offered him a bottle of Gatorade. The 35-year-old point guard
examined the purplish-blue beverage, a funky grape flavor that
advertises itself as "New & Bold," and then handed it back. "I
don't know about this stuff," he said skeptically.

It was a fitting response, for Jackson is neither new nor bold.
The 13-year veteran is as old school as they come, a pass-first,
pass-second throwback to an era when point guards didn't dunk and
the only sports drink was H2O. As such, he stands in stark
contrast to Vince Carter, Toronto's new-jack, raise-the-roof star
who happens to be the pitchman for that new, bold thirst aid.

Not that anyone in Toronto cares what Jackson is drinking, as
long as the Brooklyn native provides the Raptors with leadership,
something they sorely missed during what was, for the most part,
an impressive 1999-2000 season that ended in a first-round
playoff sweep at the hands of the Knicks. To say that the Raptors
lacked stability is to traffic in criminal understatement. Their
point guard (Doug Christie) was a 6'6" two guard who wanted
nothing more than to return to his natural position; their
second-best player (Tracy McGrady) spent much of the season with
his head in the Orlando real estate section; and their coach (the
since-fired Butch Carter) accused everyone from former Raptor and
current Knick Marcus Camby (the subject of a Carter defamation
lawsuit which was later withdrawn) to his own players of being
out to get him.

You can imagine, then, the sense of calm that washed over G.M.
Glen Grunwald this summer when he signed Lenny Wilkens, the NBA's
alltime winningest coach and one of its coolest customers, and
the heady, steady Jackson. Unhappy in Indiana, where he was
splitting time with Travis Best, Jackson was hoping to find a
playoff contender in need of a veteran floor leader. When it
became clear in early August that Toronto was going to make him
an offer, Jackson called his good friend and former Pacers
teammate Antonio Davis, now a Raptor, and left a simple five-word
message on his cell phone: "Jax is in the building." A few days
later, at a get-acquainted dinner with Grunwald, Wilkens and the
team's owners at a steak house in downtown Toronto, Jackson
signed a four-year, $16.4 million deal.

The player who stands to gain the most from Jackson's arrival is
Carter, who moves to the two spot now that Christie and McGrady
have been traded. Partnered with the unselfish Jackson--who was
one of only two players to play at least 50 games and have more
assists than field goal attempts last season--Carter will receive
a steady diet of pinpoint passes and alley-oops.

Carter appears to understand the value of Jackson: "I'm not here
to help him, he's here to help me," Carter says, only
half-jokingly. The Raptors' star also appears more mature after
an off-season in which he not only picked up an Olympic gold
medal and made French toast out of Frederic Weis, but also earned
his degree from UNC. According to teammates, Carter is becoming a
vocal locker room presence, no doubt the result of a summer
spent with Tim Hardaway and Gary Payton.

The biggest challenge the Raptors face is replacing McGrady, who
provided 15.4 points a game and led the team in blocked shots.
Sweet-shooting draft steal Morris Peterson is a leading candidate
to fill the scoring void. "Everybody was worried about Tracy
leaving," says the 6'9" Davis, who will again be playing out of
position at center. "But Peterson is good. He's quick,
understands the game and has a big heart."

Combine new jacks like Peterson with the old Jackson and you have
the making of a team that can play deep into the spring--if not
into the Finals. And one evening in the not-so-distant future
Jackson and Carter may yet share the same beverage, of the sweet
and bubbly variety.

--Chris Ballard

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH NEW TWO Carter moves to shooting guard (from small forward), where he'll be under the care and feeding of Jackson.

In Fact

Point guard Mark Jackson is fifth among active players with a
career 3.27-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. His backup, Muggsy
Bogues, is the NBA's alltime leader, with 4.70 assists for every

Projected Lineup


SF Corliss Williamson[1] 10.3 ppg 3.8 rpg 1.1 apg 50.0 FG% 76.9 FT%

PF Charles Oakley 6.9 ppg 6.8 rpg 3.2 apg 1.28 spg 41.8 FG%

C Antonio Davis 11.5 ppg 8.8 rpg 1.3 apg 1.27 bpg 44.0 FG%

SG Vince Carter 25.7 ppg 5.8 rpg 1.34 spg 1.12 bpg 46.5 FG%

PG Mark Jackson[1] 8.1 ppg 8.0 apg 3.7 rpg 43.2 FG% 40.3 3FG%


F-G Morris Peterson(R)[1]16.8 ppg 6.0 rpg 1.18 spg 46.5 FG% 42.5 3FG%

C-F Kevin Willis 7.6 ppg 6.1 rpg 0.6 apg 41.5 FG% 79.9 FT%
G Dell Curry 7.6 ppg 1.5 rpg 1.3 apg 42.7 FG% 39.3 3FG%

G Muggsy Bogues 5.1 ppg 3.7 apg 0.81 spg 43.9 FG% 90.8 FT%

G Alvin Williams 5.3 ppg 2.3 apg 1.5 rpg 39.7 FG% 29.1 3FG%

[1]New acquisition (R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 113)

an opposing team's scout sizes up the Raptors

"They were a wide-open, scrambling team under Butch Carter, and
that was fine when they had Tracy McGrady running all over the
place. Now, with Lenny Wilkens, they're going to be more
traditional, and I think that's a good thing.... Charles Oakley
drives that locker room. Oak is all about winning. That's another
good thing for Lenny.... With Corliss Williamson at the three
now, this is a big, physical team.... I think Morris Peterson
knows how to play and is going to help make up for the loss of
McGrady. But nobody can do all the things McGrady did.... Vince
Carter is at the point where his improvement isn't a matter of
whether he can shoot the ball any better or learn a lot of new
moves. It's a matter of how much drive he has. Can he recognize
it's not about him, that it's about winning? I think that at 23,
he's not mature enough yet to realize that. At 23 Jordan was not
the player we remember today.... The problem for Vince is that
he's their only All-Star. You need at least two to have a chance
in the playoffs."