Fred Carter didn't exactly jump up and down with glee Monday night when the New Jersey Nets won their 10th game of ther season. But he did celebrate a little. Sort of.
Carter was the leading scorer on the 1972-73 76ers, who finished at 9-73, still the worst record in NBA history. The Nets spent this season threatening that ineptitude, but avoided creating their own spot in history when they defeated the San Antonio Spurs 90-84.
''I'm really happy for the Nets and for myself,'' Carter told the Daily News. ''I was really concerned about the Nets not getting there. The last thing they needed was to have to carry that with them. That could have cost a couple of guys their careers.''
Carter, who has been a coach and an analyst, called his team's curious place in history ''something to hold on to.''
''It took me 20 years to learn to deal with it,'' he said. ''I resented being called the MVP of that team. I resented it when I was called the best player on the worst team ever. I had played in the Finals, so it took me a long time to accept that. I finally decided there are a lot of ways to gain immortality, and that it's better to be remembered than to not be remembered at all.
''It's been almost 38 years, and I think if the Nets had won just eight games it would have been a record that nobody could have touched. But I don't think anybody will ever touch nine, either.''
The Nets got their 10th victory by outscoring the Spurs--minus the injured Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli--18-7 down the stretch.
''It got that monkey off our back,'' Nets guard Keyon Dooling told the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. ''I mean, it's just a relief to not have your name in the history books. When you think of Fred Carter and guys like that, that's still on his resume. No matter how good of an analyst he is, not matter how good a player he was, that's still a stain on his resume that you don't want to have.''
Carter pointed out that it was a lot more difficult to get victories in '72-73, when the league was comprised of 17 teams. He also believes that his team, including John Block, Manny Leaks, Tom Van Arsdale, Freddie Boyd and others (19 players over the course of the season) had more talent.
''Everyone's happy for 10 wins, but don't get us wrong--we're still mad about the overall season,'' the Nets' Terrence Williams told the Star-Ledger. ''But we're not in the record book.''