Even before Vince Carter cleared waivers earlier this week after he was released by the Phoenix Suns, he had his sights set on joining the Dallas Mavericks.

Why?

"The way they play basketball, the way I play, my mentality, what I'm looking to accomplish,'' Carter said. "You want to go to a team where everybody can jell together, particularly at the beginning.

"And I feel like the way they play really fits me.''

Carter remembers watching the Mavs run through the playoff murder's row of Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City and Miami en route to winning their first NBA title, and he walked away thoroughly impressed.

"They had a wonderful season where they were able to overcome the odds, first and foremost,'' Carter said. "It was a team that was resilient, that understood what it actually took to win _ and that you have to play together as a unit.