NOTEBOOK From the NBA All-Star Game
Carter relents: In the end, Vince Carter decided that Michael Jordan deserved to start his final All-Star game. Carter made a last-minute decision to give up his starting spot on the East team, which allowed Jordan to take the court with Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Jermaine O'Neal and Ben Wallace. "I'm sure I'll have another All-Star game," Carter said. "Michael Jordan deserved to be out there." Jordan had declined offers from McGrady and Iverson to take their starting positions, while Carter had insisted that he wouldn't give up his spot -- despite playing only 15 games became of knee problems. Carter said he wanted to start out of respect for the fans who voted him to the starting five. "I wanted to get my point across," Carter said. "But [Jordan] needed to be out there." Carter was introduced with the other starters before the game, but Jordan took the court for the tipoff. Most of the fans at Philips Arena didn't realize No. 23 was starting until he touched the ball for the first time. Jordan said he decided to take Carter's spot because of the criticism his fellow North Carolina alum was taking. "It went against my wishes," Jordan said. "But I felt like he was taking a beating that he shouldn't have. I thought he was very respectful to me."
Ref controversy: Even in the All-Star game, the referees took a beating. In particular, Ted Bernhardt. He was the official who called a foul on Jermaine O'Neal that sent Kobe Bryant to the line with one second remaining in the first overtime. Just seconds earlier, Michael Jordan hit a fadeaway jumper to put the East ahead 138-136 -- a seemingly fitting end to the final All-Star game for His Airness. On the inbounds pass, Bryant chased down a loose ball in the corner, hurled up a desperation 3-pointer and went sprawling out of bounds. Bernhardt ruled that O'Neal shoved the Lakers star, sending him to the line for three shots. Bryant made two of the free throws, forcing another overtime, and the West went on to a 155-145 victory. "I can't believe he called that," O'Neal said. "We're trying to send Michael Jordan away a winner, and he calls a foul on a Hail Mary fadeaway." Even Jordan had a word about the officials. "They never should have made that call," he said. "We've been complaining about the refs all year." Jordan then broke into a smile. "Just kidding."
All-star ties: All-stars have been putting in lots of overtime. The NBA's midseason event became the third all-star game in the past seven months to be tied at the end of regulation. Last summer, the major leaguers settled for an infamous tie when the teams ran out of pitchers. The NHL game, held a week ago, was decided by a shootout. On Sunday, the NBA all-stars went to double overtime for the first time. This time, there was no concern of the game being called by commissioner David Stern. Both teams had plenty of able -- if somewhat tired -- bodies.
Heavy heart: Ben Wallace joined his East teammates Saturday night after his mother's funeral in Alabama. "I know Mom would have wanted me to be here," Wallace said. "I'm trying to be strong for my family. She wouldn't want us to stop. She raised 11 kids and lost none of them to nonsense. She would want us to go on." The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Wallace is the first undrafted player to be voted as an All-Star starter. "I wanted to do it for all the other players who didn't get drafted," Wallace said.
-- Associated Press