CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH alumnus Anthony Carter instructed Kody Reed, 7, during a dribbling drill yesterday at a UH basketball camp.
He's nothing more than a big kid playing a game. A 6-foot-2 kid who will turn 27 a week from today.
AC lights up UH 1 more time
By Cindy Luis
He was back on the Stan Sheriff Center court yesterday morning, going 1-on-1 with 5-year-olds barely tall enough to touch the hem of his T-shirt. The one that reads: "You smell smoke 'cause I'm on fire."
It was an appropriate shirt for Anthony "AC" Carter, the former Hawaii guard now with the Miami Heat. It's been more than four years since he lit up the Sheriff Center, electrifying the crowds along with backcourt buddy Alika Smith.
Yesterday, Carter lit up the eyes of the more than 200 campers on the first day of the Rainbow Basketball Camp. And it wasn't because he offered to buy today's lunch for the entire group.
"It's a cool thing to meet an NBA player," said Kaohu Detwiler, an 11-year-old who attends Mililani Mauka Elementary School. "I didn't see him play for the Rainbows, I was too young. But I know who he is."
Carter's life has changed quite a bit since he last wore a Rainbow uniform in 1998. He's a lot richer, having signed a $12 million, three-year contract with the Heat last July; and he has a son, 11-week-old Devin.
But Carter hasn't changed as a person. He still has the same sweet smile, infectious giggle and a kind word for any fan. Yesterday, when he shook hands with Yuki Fujinaga, "It made my day," she said. "It was such a thrill."
She had brought her 10-year-old grandson Brandon to camp and stayed to watch. When Carter walked by, she hesitated then asked, "Are you AC?"
Her bravery got her a few minutes with Carter and an autograph for her grandson.
"That's what I miss about Hawaii," said Carter. "Everyone is so nice and friendly. When I got off the plane (Thursday), all these people were saying hello and aloha. You can't get enough of that."
What Carter didn't get enough of this past season was playing time. He pulled an abdominal muscle prior to preseason camp; it eventually turned into a hernia that required surgery.
In late December, Carter was put on injured reserve, missing 29 games over the next two months as the Heat went 16-13. He missed another five games in late March due to the birth of his son.
Miami finished 36-46, in sixth place in the Atlantic Division. It was the first time in Carter's three seasons the Heat did not make the playoffs, the first time in seven seasons for the franchise.
"We had a bad season with a lot of injuries and basically a new team," said Carter, who averaged 4.3 points and 4.7 assists in 46 games. "I'm looking forward to next season, seeing who we'll have coming in and getting everyone on the same track.
"And I'm just trying to stay healthy. I love playing for Miami and living in Miami. It's a nice city."
The camp is not the only reason for Carter's visit. Tomorrow, he will be feted at a reception officially recognizing the $100,000 he has donated to start the Anthony Carter Endowed Scholarship Fund for the men's basketball program.
"That's what it's all about, trying to help people like somebody helped me," said Carter. "I didn't have money to go to school and the University of Hawaii is the school that helped me.
"Somebody made the way for me and I want to give back and keep it going."
Carter said he followed the Rainbow basketball team's success this season but didn't see a game until Hawaii met Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"They were running and gunning and doing great," Carter said of Hawaii's 40-33 halftime lead. "They had the lead, were playing hard, shooting the ball good. They had them. Then came the second half and everything just went."
The Rainbows eventually lost 70-58.
Carter saw a better outcome when Hawaii advanced to the men's volleyball final four. He watched the Warriors' wins over Penn State and Pepperdine on television.
"I made my girlfriend (Cassie) and her mother watch the volleyball games," he said. "I was excited, knowing that the University of Hawaii was my school and they won the national championship."
And what about this year's NBA championship?
"I wanted anybody but the Lakers," he said. "But the Lakers will win it. Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal) is too big. When we play them, I stay out of his way. That dude is too big."
Carter said he hopes to remain in the NBA for a few more years.
"Ten years would be enough for me," he said. "I'm not trying to play forever. I don't want to keep having surgeries. The more surgeries you have, the worse your body gets. Ten years from now, I want to be able to play with my son and relax.
"The baby's great. He's getting bigger and he's strong. I don't know if he'll play basketball. I'll show him everything, let him choose and let him have fun."
That's what Carter has planned for himself this week. In addition to the camp, he intends to rent some scooters with friends and hit the beach before leaving Friday.
"I want to go surfing," he said. "I learned when I first I got here. I'm OK. I can stand up for at least 10 seconds."
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