[NBA] Alston suspended by Raptors

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Jan. 30, 2005. 04:54 PM

Alston suspended by Raptors


The Toronto Raptors handed point guard Rafer Alston a two-game suspension Sunday for what they called "conduct detrimental to the team."

Team officials were tight-lipped about the nature of the incident, which is believed to have occurred during practice today. Alston's punishment was announced about an hour prior to today's game against the Phoenix Suns.

"There's rules and certain things that we have to follow and a certain code of conduct and professionalism that we're not going to expect but demand," said head coach Sam Mitchell, who added that Alston needed better control of his temper. "It would be helpful for him as far as furthering his career and being the player he has the talent to be.

"His passion is a strength but sometimes it can be a weakness. You have to learn to control your emotions."

Alston will also miss Wednesday's game at Indiana. He can practise with the club Thursday and will be eligible to suit up for Friday night's home contest against Washington.

"We'll take it from Thursday," said Mitchell. "If things are well then we'll go back and continue to play. But it's just going to depend on Rafer."

The 28-year-old Alston is averaging 14 points and 7.1 assists per game this season for the Raptors. He signed a six-year, $30-million U.S. deal with Toronto as a free agent in the summer.

This isn't the first time Alston has been in trouble with the club.

During a 91-89 loss to the Boston Celtics on Dec. 3, Alston and centre Loren Woods were benched after each received technical fouls in the third quarter.

Mitchell later called their conduct "inexcusable" and kept both out of the starting lineup the following night.

Alston was so upset, he threatened to leave the team and quit the NBA altogether before backtracking later.

Considering Alston's track-record, the first-year coach wasn't completely surprised the Raptors took this course of action.

"You could kind of feel it," said Mitchell, "that something like this was going to happen."


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They sure could have used Alston today. They lost hella bad to those sizzlinggg SUNS!!! What's da deal with Alston anyways. Seems like he got some other alter ego dat da fans haven't really seen from him.

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Feb. 4, 2005. 07:21 AM

Rafer's anger gives way to apology

Raptor declares he's sorry after being suspended

GM Babcock says club will help deal with `problem'



He was contrite, and to his credit didn't avoid reporters or bolt out of the practice gym yesterday giving a terse "no comment."

In his first day back with the team following the end of his two-game suspension for walking out in the middle of last Saturday's practice in a rage, point guard Rafer Alston faced the music, told reporters he'd said sorry to his team and his coach, and said he's going to work on keeping his emotions in check.

Raptors general manager Rob Babcock offered a frank assessment of Alston, saying his player has a "problem'' keeping his emotions in check, but the team is willing to work with him because Alston admits he has a problem.

"The main thing is Rafer knows he's got some things he's got to deal with and he's willing to deal with it. We're here to help him deal with it any way we can,'' Babcock said.

"You just don't put a Band-Aid on it and have a nice hug, smile and boom back to work. You've got to deal with this long-term.''

Babcock was asked if Alston is seeking professional help through anger management counselling.

"Again, all those things are private things. ... How we go about doing that is confidential,'' the GM said.

And what spurred the fiery 28-year-old Alston to walk of last Saturday afternoon's practice at the ACC in the first place?

Alston explained yesterday that he didn't like the pace or intensity of the practice, given that the team had lost two games in a row. What really rankled him was the loss the previous night to the Charlotte Bobcats, an expansion club that lost 10 straight games before beating the Raptors that evening in Charlotte.

"I thought it (the practice) was a little lackadaisical, a little mediocre and a little too ordinary for a team that's trying to stay in the playoff hunt,'' Alston said.

"We lost a game to a team that I felt we should beat every time. I don't think we came in the next day (Saturday) and took it the right way. I didn't think our practice was such that we were keying on things that were wrong and trying to improve,'' he said, added he wanted the practice to focus on defence.

"One of the things I've got to deal with is not having so many emotional outbursts at practice and things like that,'' he said. He said his mother was flying into Toronto yesterday with a "belt, extension cord and a hammer'' to straighten him out, and he joked he might not be able to sit after she arrived.

Coach Sam Mitchell, Babcock and Alston sat down for just over an hour before practice yesterday to discuss the latest incident.

"We talked, we had a good practice today. Rafer was fine in practice and he talked to his teammates,'' was pretty much all Mitchell would say about the matter.

Alston and Mitchell have locked horns before, but Alston said part of the reason for the volatile chemistry is they are so alike.

"One thing about him and I is we want to win. His objective when he came up here was to turn this (team) around, and my objective signing here for six years ($29 million U.S.) was to turn this thing around ... and get this team, this organization, this city back into a winning atmosphere,'' Alston said.

Alston added that he's not embarrassed or angry that issues from his past have resurfaced, including a 1997 report that he dropped a weight on the groin of a sleeping teammate he'd argued with, and being charged for beating an ex-girlfriend in the late 1990s.

He said the incidents help people understand who he is, and help him "realize'' he's not the same person.

"None of us here are angels. We all have something in our past that we've done.''


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