Going easy on Horford

MIKE GANTER

, Last Updated: 7:50 AM ET

If you're looking for payback in basketball, you're in the wrong sport Raptors coach Sam Mitchell says.

On the eve of Al Horford's first game against the Raptors since the Atlanta Hawks rookie took a swat at T.J. Ford going up for a layup and wound up knocking him to the hardwood and into career limbo, the question put to Mitchell was what constitutes team toughness in basketball today.

"First of all we don't feel we need to try and retaliate against the young man (Horford)," Mitchell said. "All that stuff happened in the heat of the moment. Mike Woodson (Atlanta's coach) came down to our locker room and he and I talked about it. I thought it was very gracious of him to do that and to come down and talk to T.J. (Horford) went to the hospital and spent two hours with T.J. T.J. is fine with it. I'm fine with it. Obviously we were all scared because of T.J's history, that's why I got upset, but afterwards you realize it was an accident. You realize (Horford) is a good young man ... so it's a non-issue."

But as for the question of toughness in basketball in this day and age, Mitchell had no idea.

"I don't know what team toughness is because there's nothing you can do these days," he said. "If you throw a punch and miss, you're gone for a game so just go out and play the game. I want our players to play the game the way it is supposed to be played. That's it."

Mitchell said those looking for toughness should find another sport.

"If you want to see tough it's going to be (-20C) in Green Bay (tomorrow)," he said. "Go put those pads on with no sleeves, get on that line and you go play football and then you'll find out who's tough because you can handcheck in football."


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