'Lies' bug Babcock

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

Raptors general manager Rob Babcock has been calm, cool and collected in his dealings with the media since being hired on June 7.

But obviously he has reached his breaking point.

Babcock lashed out at the media yesterday for printing what he called "unbelievable" and "completely false" rumours about his team.

The latest rumour that threw Babcock for a loop was a report out of New York suggesting he and Alonzo Mourning's agent, Jeff Wechsler, have been negotiating a buyout for three days and the two sides are close to an agreement.

While Babcock won't comment on the Mourning situation specifically, he railed that the rumours surrounding the former Net, who was traded to Toronto in the Vince Carter deal on Friday, were typical of the garbage you find on the internet and in the sports pages.

"People keep throwing that stuff out there and it's complete lies. Ninety-five percent of that stuff is completely false," he told The Toronto Sun.

"The last four weeks I've been spending 45 minutes a day answering questions about stuff that's completely false.

"It's just a waste of everybody's time," he added. "But some of it is also harmful."

Babcock may have a point. Prior to being traded to Jersey, Carter was reported to be going everywhere from Portland to New York to New Orleans. Jersey was a destination that came out of the blue.

As for Mourning, who underwent kidney transplant surgery a year ago, the former two-time NBA defensive player of the year is in Miami recovering from various injuries and reportedly does not plan on playing north of the border.

Babcock talked to the seven-time all-star on Saturday and refuses to reveal whether Mourning would play for the Raptors when the former Georgetown star regains his health.

Before the trade went down, Mourning had asked for $14 million US (out of the $17 million owed) to gain his freedom from the Nets. The Newark Star-Ledger reports the Nets had offered $6 million.

TYPICAL MEDIA HYPE

When Japanese guard Yuta Tabuse joined the Phoenix Suns this season, the basketball media in North America jumped all over the story: How it was great for basketball, etc. This is a league that loves it when foreign (read, non-black) players perform well, and the first Japanese-born player to play in the NBA was a story no one could resist.

Well, as it turns out, despite the hype, Tabuse wasn't very good. Before being waived by the Suns this week, Tabuse averaged 1.8 points, 1.0 rebounds and a whopping 4.3 minutes in four games. If he was the first NBA player from Uganda, do you think he would have received the same hype?

SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL

For the record, neither the NBA nor the Raptors are interested in investigating the allegations that Carter tipped off a play to the Seattle SuperSonics on Nov.19.

No fewer than three Sonics heard Carter whisper the play the Raps were about to run after inbounding the ball following a timeout.

"It's a non-event as far as we're concerned," Brian Flinn, NBA basketball communications director, said yesterday.

So, why don't the two parties involved want to investigate the allegations? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the last thing the NBA wants at this point is more negative publicity in the wake of the Ron Artest brawl, the various Kobe Bryant controversies, etc. Better to just sweep this stuff under the carpet than have to deal with it.

DISHONOURABLE MENTION

There are those in the Toronto media, as well as some die-hard fans, who believe the Raptors should retire Vince Carter's jersey number. Preposterous.

Where do you begin to list the reasons why Carter should not be so honoured at the Air Canada Centre?

How about: This is a guy who poisoned the atmosphere in the dressing room this season by asking for a trade. Why did he want to be traded? Because, in his own words, it's time to think of "him," not the team.

Carter never played tough on defence and often, much too often, was seen smiling and joking on the court or the bench when the Raptors were down.

Remember during the the 2001 playoffs, when Carter left the team to attend his university graduation in North Carolina? Later in the day, Carter's all-important shot at the buzzer clanked off the rim during Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Raptors lost 88-87 and were eliminated.

It says something that, by the end of last season, 19-year-old rookie Chris Bosh was considered more of a leader than six-year veteran Carter.

For what is Carter best remembered? His leadership? His clutch play in the playoffs? His toughness? None of the above. He's remembered most for his acrobatic slams at the 2000 all-star game and his tough, committed play as a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team.

The Air Canada Centre fans have booed Carter all season. In this case, the fans are exactly right to boo.


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