First of all, this is a video from a late game last night between the Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Lakers. It`s a video of the altercation as a result of a unfortunate foul by Lakers forward Trevor Ariza on Rudy Fernandez on the Blazers. Aside from the actual intent of the foul (it`s clear that Ariza went for the block but instead caught Rudy`s head...it`s just that the fall made it look a lot worst) pay close attention to the aftermath of the foul. Now sometimes an altercation between players is deemed as inappropriate. But at the same time, if I was the coach I`d like my players to protect and stand up for one another, through anything whether it`s off the court or incidents like this. Some can argue that these altercations do nothing but escalate the event and are sometimes just excuses for players to blow off some steam. But this is not just "any" altercation, just players standing up for the teamates of their respective team. The only things exchanged are just words, not punches. To me it showed me that the Blazers are a more mature team than they look (youngest team in the NBA and the fact that they didn't escalate the event buy throwing punches), they also showed me that the are a close nitted team, because why else would you race down the whole court just to tell the perpatrator how many "F" words you can say in about a minute. Whoever gets fined for this altercation, it was well worth it in my opinion.
Well back on topic, how does this have anything to do with the Raptors? Simple, ever since Charles Oakley left Toronto (with the exception of maybe Antonio Davis) all the Raptor players since are lack of a better term, pussies.
Exhibit A: TJ Ford injury at Atlanta on Dec 11th, 2007.
The video says a lot, same time of incident it was a bang bang play exactly like the one last night. Yet this one the Raptor players stood around looking confused and not sure what or how to react. The only person who "reacted" was the coach himself who went all the way to the other bench to confront Mike Woodson (Hawks' coach). Now what they did was technically right, settle down and do not escalate the incident. But come on really, you're in the middle of a game and you just watched your teammate get clocked and it doesn't make you tick. Or are you telling me that in a split second, you KNEW that the foul was not intentional so you just forget about it. That tells me that 1) this team is not very close, 2) they don't have a leader to stand up for the team (with the exception of the coach).
Exhibit B: Jose Calderon get's an elbow from Anthony Johnson on January 18th, 2008
Same deal here, no body reacts to the situation, especially Calderon who just got nailed with an elbow. Now he may have flopped on the play but still nothing?! From what I understand this incident stemmed from an early play where these two got tangled up and this elbow was a retaliation for it. Still I am baffled at the fact that the players just stood by and did not at least showed some sign of acknowledgment to the incident.
Exhibit C: Stromile Swift flagrant foul on Jamario Moon on November 21st, 2007
No video here, but from what I recall this one was actually intentional. Jamario was going a dunk on the fast break and Stromile made no play for the ball and pushed Jamario to the ground thus resulting in a flagrant foul. Now if I remember correctly Chris Bosh was the first one down to the court, he simply ran by Stromile and just gave Jamario the quick glance to see if he's okay. Although Jamario was not hurt but at the speed that he was going it was surprise he wasn't hurt. But once again nobody responded.
So with all the talk about Raptors not being mentally tough or not physical enough to win games, well let's put it this way, they don't have anybody whose got a tough bone in their bodies. This team was built to put up points, not to play defense. So my question is why are people so angry about them not being able to defend. They overpaid a guy like Kapono to come in to shoot threes instead of overpaying a guy to come in to play defend (Jermaine O'Neal doesn't count because he is lazy and only plays decent defense when he felt like it). They need some guy in their lineup that isn't afraid of contact or has at least some sort of leadership qualities to take a stand. Right now they got a roster full of clean cut guys, what they need is to drop this whole act and maybe pick up a real leader this off season. Maybe like a Ron Artest, who comes with baggage and a track record but you know when he is on your side, he's got your back. You won't mix him up as a fake tough guy, because we've all witness how real he keeps it at.