Basketball

Oakley, Ms. Carter at odds

Charles Oakley thought he had seen it all during his 16-year NBA career.

But that was before the Toronto Raptors power forward was dissed on North American television by Michelle Carter, Vince's mother.

The outspoken Oakley drew Michelle Carter's ire Tuesday when he said Vince Carter had to stand up and be a man, and stop deflecting criticism regarding his lacklustre playoff performance against the New York Knicks.

An irate Michelle Carter pointed the finger right back at Oakley in a courtside interview with TNT.

"Those who did the talking were't doing too much on the court," she said.

Vince Carter, who was shooting 31 per cent and averaging 18.3 points through Toronto's first three contests, responded on the court with a 32-point outburst to lead the Raptors to a series-tying 100-93 win over New York.

The fifth and deciding game will be played at Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday (8 p.m. EDT).

Holding court with reporters crammed at the exit of the Raptors' practice facility at the Air Canada Centre, the six-foot-five, 245-pound Oakley could only shake his head Thursday.

"Like I've said, the league is not like it used to be," Oakley said. "I've been around 16 years and never seen it.

"No matter what his mother said, I don't have a beef with her, but I guess she has a beef with me because I said something not negative about her son, it was all about what he had (to do in playoffs)."

Oakley, who was 2-for-6 on Wednesday, fired back after the game, saying Carter's mother was trying to coach the Raptors.

Oakley diplomatically refrained from again calling Michelle Carter a coach Thursday, but did take a jab at her by saying he can't shoot more because its not his job to take 30 shots each game.

"I shoot five or six times, go out and play defence and make sure everything is clicking," he said. "I'm like a transmission in a car.

"You can't see me, but I make the car go."

Oakley repeated that the Raptors will go only as far in the playoffs as Carter takes them.

"You know it, it's still going to be on Vince," Oakley said. "I'm not shying away from it.

"He's the captain of the plane, Antonio (Davis) is our co-pilot and the other 10 guys are passengers. We're just going to have to ride with them."

Carter didn't discuss his mother's spat with Oakley on Thursday but reiterated that he's not a one-man show.

"We do it as a team, that's what it is all about," Carter said. "I'm just trying to go out there personally and have an all-around game.

"To me, it (Game 5) is just another game."

Despite the cramped conditions, Oakley patiently answered every question, to the dismay of teammates Alvin Williams and Michael Stewart, who pleaded with Oakley to stop talking so they could finally leave the practice facility.

"I've got to make sure I answer the questions because if I don't, the league said I'm going to get fined," Oakley said. "What's next?

"I'll answer all questions today, they'll have to wait."

This wasn't the first time Oakley has made his teammates wait while speaking to reporters in a bizarre location.

Earlier in the week, he chatted from an elevator, propping the door ajar with his muscular arms while forward Jerome Williams patiently waited inside.

Only after a security guard came on the intercom and asked if there was a problem with the door did the questioning stop.

As for Friday's showdown, Oakley said it's crucial that Toronto plays the same tenacious defence it displayed in Game 4, when the Raptors forced 18 turnovers that led to 20 points.

"We're just going in to play the game and can't get caught up in the (Madison Square) Garden hype," said Oakley, who spent 10 seasons in New York before being traded to Toronto three years ago.

"We just have to play tougher defence and play like we played Wednesday. The offence will come.

"We don't have to worry about offence because we've got guys to do the scoring."

By Dan Ralph