Vince Carter brings a lot of things to the Phoenix Suns. 12 years of NBA experience. Countless awards, All-Star appearances and All-NBA honors. He's just shy of 20,000 points in his career and feels like he can still create plenty of scoring opportunities for himself and for Steve Nash. In other words, Vince Carter brings a type of confidence and bravado that Amare Stoudemire had in Phoenix. Vince is just a tad bit better at expressing his point and winning the battle of the press conference.
Asked about going from a championship-contending team in Orlando the the .500 Suns, who are struggling to stay in playoff contention, Vince wasn't worried. Vince has the answers and the answer is Vince.
"Yes, we left a championship-caliber team, but when we added the right pieces to Orlando that made that team a championship-caliber team. Now, adding the right pieces here can do the same thing."
But according to Vince, the key isn't Vince's numbers. The key is having a winning mentality and believing, something it sounds like he feels is missing from the Suns up to this point.
"It's all about winning. It's really not about my numbers. It's not really about what the other guys are doing, it's about getting (wins) and, like I said, championships.
"It's about believing, believing you can. That's one thing about our team, and teams that I've played on in the past -- when we believed, it got better. My first year in New Jersey, we were below .500 when I got there, but we made the playoffs. We weren't good enough to win a championship, but it was about us believing it can happen. We come from a team where we believed that good things could happen to our team and we want to bring that to the table for this team."
Clearly, the Suns' problem on the defensive end and in the rebounding battle was they didn't believe enough. Problem solved now, thanks to Vince Carter.
On the court, Vince says he can score the ball and also take some of the pressure off Steve Nash by creating for others, including Nash. That might sound a lot like what we heard Hedo Turkoglu's role would be, but let's face it, Hedo Turkoglu certainly is no Vince Carter when it comes to facilitating an offense.
Carter wants to be the guy who sometimes has the 13 assists so Nash can have the 40 points. Again, it's not about Vince's own numbers, it's about doing whatever it takes to help the team win and Vince is going to fit in with the Suns.
"I used the word 'fitting in' before and I was scolded by coach. I just want to come in here and be myself," Carter said about fitting in.
Suns fans will recall that it took Jason Richardson most of his first season to feel like he understood his role and how to play with this team. Vince isn't concerned about adjusting and doesn't think it will take too long.
"I can't put a timetable on it because first off, we haven't had one practice. It's more so just trying to grasp the concepts."
But then again, Vince is a guy that goes above and beyond his own role, which could add a little more time to the process.
"For me, I always make it harder for myself because I try and learn the ins and outs of the offense at every position -- for my own knowledge. The challenge is to grasp the offense and understand what they're trying to get out of it and I think you can kind of navigate your way through it from there. And once you get the defensive concepts -- coming from a defensive team -- it can't get anymore difficult or harder than what I just left. I think I'll be OK on that aspect."
Most importantly, Vince wants you to know what's really important: "It's about us as a unit finding a way to win."
Press conference won.
Now the question remains if this confident alpha dog can fit in with Steve Nash and Grant Hill. Vince is confident that his years of friendship with Grant -- they are neighbors in Orlando and at one point talked about wanting to play together -- will help.
Many see Vince Carter as a guy with a short-term contract that was part of the deal that helped undo the long-term burden the Suns took on in Hedo Turkoglu. They see Vince as a possible chip to be used in another trade or as an expiring contract to help the Suns clear salary cap space to acquire other assets.
Vince doesn't see it that way. Vince is here to help the Suns find a winning mentality and make sure the Suns believe they can win a championship. Winning is all that matters to Vince.
Mickael Pietrus is also a guy who believes in having a good attitude and thinks the key to his being a good defensive player is his mentality.
"I think it's a matter if you're a winner. So I think that's what I'm going to bring to the team at the end of the fourth quarter, but still enjoy myself and have a great smile on my face on the floor," Pietrus said.
He's not worried about his minutes or if he starts the game, but he certainly hopes he can be the guy on the floor in the fourth quarter hitting big shots ... with a smile on his face and love in his heart.
"I'm not into any competition. I will love my teammates, so we're going to do the best thing for the franchise."
Pietrus, who missed some time recently due to a sore knee, said he's fine and will be ready to play on Thursday.
"My knee is good, no problem now."