In an admission stunning only the rare display of candor, Nets F Vince Carter told TNT’s John Thompson last night that he routinely gave less than 100% while playing for Toronto. From CBC Sports :

In a broadcast interview with U.S. cable station TNT, Carter said he didn’t push himself hard enough in Toronto.

“In years past, no,” he said. “I was fortunate to have the talent. You get spoiled when you’re able to do a lot of things. You see that you don’t have to work at it.

“Now, with all the injuries, I have to work harder. I’m a little hungrier. Getting a fresh start has made me want to attack the basket.”

Carter made the comments after questions surfaced about his dedication to the game when he played with the Raptors.

Carter was irked by the criticism.

“Guys compare it to Michael Jordan, the game face. I have that,” said Carter. “But I enjoy basketball. I love to smile. If I’m not smiling, then it’s a problem . . . then I’m really not competing.

“Everybody looks at it like, ‘This is the way this guy plays.’Some players have said just because they approach the game that way, that I should. And I still have the same results in the end.”

Carter’s former Toronto teammates didn’t mince words when questioned by the AP:

“It’s a reflection on him and his character,” Raptors guard Rafer Alston said. “Is he a guy that you can go to war with night in and night out? That’s what a lot of people are going to be questioning.”

Alston also suggested that Carter cost the Raptors games with his lack of effort.

“It hurts,” Alston said. “I don’t know if a player who is considered an All-Star and has so many fan votes going into All-Star week wants to have that on his rap sheet.”

Toronto guard Morris Peterson was shocked when he watched the interview on television.

“It caught me off guard, being a professional player that’s something I always pride myself on,” Peterson said. “I can sleep better at night knowing I give it everything I can.”

“You could tell he wasn’t playing his best,” Peterson said.

Presumably trying, Carter (above) scored 22 tonight in New Jersey’s 82-72 win over Golden State.