COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Just days before the NBA regular season begins, Vince Carter has left the Toronto Raptors for two days to be in federal court and
fight a lawsuit filed by his former agent, who has spent the last few years in federal prison.
William "Tank" Black wants Carter to pay him $9 million in commissions for endorsement deals the former agent said he landed for Carter, as well as $5
million in damages, according to the suit filed last year.
Carter has countersued, demanding Black pay him the $15.9 million Carter lost when Puma sued him over a failed shoe deal and a $3 million penalty for
breaking the contract.
The trial started Wednesday and is expected to last two days. Carter missed Tuesday night's exhibition game in Denver and will miss Wednesday night's
game in Portland. He expects to rejoin the Raptors for their final preseason game Friday against Cleveland.
Carter arrived in court Wednesday afternoon, after opening statements. During breaks in the trial he signed autographs for the few fans who recognized
him and politely shooed away a reporter asking questions.
Carter's lawyers had planned for him to testify Wednesday, but the questioning of Black -- the first witness called -- lasted all day, pushing
Carter's testimony back a day and likely delaying the end of the trial until Friday.
During a recess, Carter said he wouldn't talk about the case until it is over. He also wouldn't say if a longer trial meant he would miss Friday's
Black signed Carter with his Columbia-based company, Professional Management Inc., in 1998 before he entered the NBA draft as a junior. Carter was
Black's first NBA client. The agent mostly represented NFL players.
The two signed a 12-year deal in 1999, about the same time Black's legal problems began. In it, Black promised not to represent another NBA client
without Carter's permission and both sides agreed to pay a $3 million penalty if they broke the deal without warning or an adequate reason.
Black has pleaded guilty to money laundering, fraud and other charges for his role in a car title for cash scheme that bilked millions of dollars from
sports stars, including Carter, who lost $130,000. He has already completed one nearly seven-year sentence that was reduced to three years, and has
served two years of a five-year sentence on separate charges.
The legal problems kept Black from being an effective agent, leaving Carter well within his rights to cancel the deal, Carter's lawyer S. Jahue Moore