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For Vince Carter, yesterday was the day the music died - at least during pregame warm-ups.

The mercurial star with the Toronto Raptors, who has not exactly sprinted out of the starting blocks this season, received more damaging news yesterday when the National Basketball Association determined his portable stereo unit is off limits in warm-ups.

The 27-year-old shooting guard had been listening to music on his trendy iPod on the basketball court during pregame warm-ups, chilling privately with his tunes while practising jump shots with his teammates.

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Yesterday, the NBA said Carter's quest for inner peace through his headphones did not conform to the league guidelines on proper attire on the court. The league has asked him to put the music player away.

"Vince isn't allowed to be wearing the iPod," said Brian McIntyre, the NBA's senior vice-president of basketball communications. "You won't be seeing him wearing it again in the future."

Carter was shocked when told the news yesterday afternoon after practice. The Raptors, who have two games left in a six-game road trip, will play the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center tonight.

"Why?" an uncomprehending Carter said. "Oh, Lord!"

Carter said he did not want to comment on the development, but said he loves to listen to music to prepare himself for the rigours of competition.

"It's going to hurt [my routine]big time," Carter said. "I like to listen to music when I'm working out, doing all that. That was my chance to really kind of relax yet focus in. I focus in when I have music on."

It has been Carter's focus during the games that has been questionable.

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Through seven games this year, Carter is averaging 14.3 points a game, about eight points less than what he averaged last season. Twice during this current road trip, Carter has found himself on the end of the bench during the fourth quarter while rookie coach Sam Mitchell went with his reserves to try to win games.

Carter took the news of his iPod banning harder than his benching.

"I'm suing," he said with a laugh when asked about Mitchell's early-season coaching moves.

Carter said it is still early in the season - despite a 1-3 record on the current road trip, the Raptors are still 4-3 overall - and he does not feel any pressure to change the way he is playing.

"Nope, just be who I am," he said, echoing a familiar refrain. "I'm just going to keep playing. It's what's good for the team. Right now we've got a lot of guys scoring. By me taking 25 or 30 shots - for what? That's disrupting a team.

"I've never ever cared about numbers. I'm hearing for the first time what I'm averaging. I don't care. I'm trying to get this team to the playoffs, get deep in the playoffs, get back to where we were in 2000, 2001. That's what it's all about right now."

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