Longtime NBA star Vince Carter spoke out on Thursday about his experiences playing for, and then against, the Phoenix Suns and team owner Robert Sarver — and said that Sarver once instructed his players to “take him out.”
Carter’s comments come after a bombshell report from ESPN detailing numerous allegations of racism, misogyny and toxic culture led by Sarver throughout the Suns organization.
Carter played for the Suns briefly during the 2010-11 season after being traded there from the Orlando Magic. He then landed in Dallas the following season, the first of a three-year stint with the Mavericks.
When he returned to Phoenix with the Mavericks to play the Suns for the first time, Carter said that he was told Sarver had instructed Suns players to “take me out” and “put me on the ground.”
"As a player coming back, after I played there, he walked into the locker room — from what I was told from two teammates that are reliable and [I] trust in what they say — that he wasn't happy with me playing well coming back into Phoenix," Carter said on ESPN on Thursday in an interview with Malika Andrews.
“And we were winning the game and he wanted them to take me out. Put me on the ground. 'Don't let him have fun in our building.' Because he felt like I was trying to show him and the team up."
Vince Carter said 2 teammates told him that when he returned to PHX, after playing there for a year, Robert Sarver told the PHX locker room to take him out/put him on the ground because he didn't like that VC was playing well & thought he was trying to show him and the team up. pic.twitter.com/3PWr7kqtrf
— ✯✯✯✯✯ (@FTBVids_YT) November 4, 2021
Carter shined in that Jan. 30, 2012 contest in Phoenix, dropping 21 points while shooting 8-of-13 from the field to help lead the Mavericks to a 23-point win.
"Obviously, it's surprising," Carter said on ESPN. "One thing he said: Every time I scored the ball, that I was looking at them. Of course when you go back to your old team, you want to play well and show, hey, this is what I can do. And I guess he felt that I was trying to show him up or whatever the case may be, I don't know. When it was told to me, I'm just like wow."
At first, Carter said he “just brushed it off.” Nothing bad happened in the game, and he wasn’t hurt.
And, he’s well aware that it can be uncomfortable returning to play against your former team for the first time.
But now — especially after the NBA launched an investigation into the various allegations against Sarver — it’s clear to Carter that Sarver had instructed Suns players to try and hurt him.
“That seems to me more like a ‘take you out’ as in something physical,” Andrews said to Carter. “Am I reading that correctly?”
“Yeah. No, you’re right,” Carter responded. “He said, ‘Hey, send a message. Don’t let him have fun in our building.’”