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Carter all cleared for takeoff with Team USA

Despite the 'unfortunate' absence of Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter hopes his game takes off again.

Updated: August 11, 2003, 10:28 AM ET
By Joe Lago | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- A symbolic Olympic torch wasn't passed. No jingoistic message was relayed over the phone or through e-mail from one All-Star shooting guard to another.

Fact is, Vince Carter needed no words of wisdom or encouragement from Kobe Bryant after taking the injured and embattled Los Angeles Lakers star's place on the roster of the United States men's basketball team.

Having won gold before, Carter knows the importance of his role and the U.S. squad's task at hand.

"I'm just ...

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