Mavs' Carter says hosting Obama for fundraiser was 'honor'

DALLAS -- On Feb. 23, Vince Carter's sprawling mansion in the suburban Orlando, Fla., neighborhood of Isleworth looked very presidential.

That was the day the Dallas Mavericks' swingman hosted a $30,000-a-plate fundraiser at his chic home for President Barack Obama. About 70 people attended the event, including owner Mark Cuban, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, ex-Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, former Atlanta Hawks guard Steve Smith and other non-NBA dignitaries.

Secret Service folks also were crawling all around Carter's massive estate.

"They took over the house and it was well guarded, if you can imagine, but it was just interesting to see," Carter said. "The process was an interesting process, but it was just great to see how it all worked and how they move and how they operate.

"It was just people everywhere. I'm not one for a lot of folks in the house, but, of course, if the Secret Service comes to your house, I think my house is going to be well secured, so it was all good."

Carter knows some of his neighbors didn't exactly like having their lives interrupted with the fundraiser; especially if they are Republicans.

"I think there are more Republicans around my neighborhood," Carter said. "Then again, everybody got to benefit from it because regardless of if you're a Republican or a Democrat, to see the [presidential] motorcade and see all the flashing lights and all the hoopla and hoorah that comes with the president moving is exciting in itself.

"When I got there maybe an hour before [President Obama arrived], there were people already standing out in their yard just waiting. So regardless of if you appreciate the president, you like him, dislike him or whatever, it was interesting to see."

The event at Carter's home raised $2.1 million for President Obama's campaign. The election is Tuesday.

"He was scheduled to be there an hour or so, and he ended up staying a little longer," Carter said of Obama. "He got to relax and everybody had a good time, and he and my daughter [Kai] had a pretty good, long conversation as well. So it made my night just to see her excited about the opportunity.

"My daughter was into the presidential race in 2008 at 3 years old. She used to always watch me and say, 'Daddy, are you watching it?' For her it's more historical, and it was an honor for me, but something that not every child gets the opportunity to do."

Carter had the group seated on the court of his indoor basketball court. The gymnasium scoreboard read 2012 with the score tied at 44 -- Obama is the nation's 44th president.

The fundraiser was held the Thursday before the NBA All-Star Game in Orlando.

Carter lives in the tiny Isleworth neighborhood that also includes Tiger Woods, Shaquille O'Neal, Bubba Watson, Jameer Nelson, Grant Hill, Jason Williams and 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman.

For Carter, the fundraiser was a surreal moment.

"I had a lot of negative comments from some people about it, but like I said, I'm into from just the fact that this is a chance of a lifetime," Carter said. "Whether it was a Republican president or a Democratic president, this is a chance of a lifetime and I wanted to take advantage of that, and it was awesome.

"It was more so from the fact of the honor and just being a part of helping out, and I think that's something my daughter will always remember and something you can't take from her. So everybody got to benefit from that, and I think that was fun and interesting in itself."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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