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  Tue, April 13, 2004


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The Word
With the numerous plot twists that see its heroes turn into villains, Mike Ulmer's idea that the Raptors franchise is a mirror image of pro wrestling has a ring of truth to it.

By MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

The Raptors finish their home schedule tonight against the Detroit Pistons having done what most assumed was impossible.

They have fallen further, quit with less compunction, caved in more feebly than even their harshest critics would have thought possible.

That said, there is one major difference between the Raptors and the pro wrestling circuit.

One is a con, a bit of sweat-laden theatre where the actors rotate between heel and hero until you can't believe a word anyone says.

The other is staged inside a ring.

WORST ATTRIBUTES

This newspaper is fond of saying that government should operate more like business. Behold the Raptors, a business marinated in the worst attributes of bad governance.

Profligate spenders, the Raptors don't betray an atom of remorse in delivering a shrivelling level of value while charging more every year.

Think all politicians are the same? It doesn't matter who owns the Raptors, be they Bitoves, Slaights or teachers, they will always disappoint.

And as it is in politics, much is promised little is delivered. Promises are worth the paper they weren't written on.

The Raptors, as an entity, are as valueless as a call girl's come-on.

Alvin Williams is a mensch. For my money, so is coach Kevin O'Neill.

But the franchise's gallery of characters -- Isiah Thomas, Butch Carter, Tracy McGrady, Nate Huffman, Damon Stoudamire, Darrell Walker -- has been so off-putting, you can't see the wood for the rot.

As they do in pro wrestling, the Raptors' string of saviours inevitably turns bad.

There was Antonio Davis on Sunday, braying about the season sweep of the Raptors by his new club, the Chicago Bulls.

You may recall Davis as the hard-working linchpin of a Raptors playoff club from a few seasons back. More likely, you remember him as a whining gazzillionaire who liked Canada until he got a long-term deal then began leveraging his way out of town.

Lenny Wilkens was advertised as the gold standard for NBA coaches. Instead, he proved himself a disinterested, alibi-prone lifer.

Glen Grunwald, the self-effacing, aw-shucks general manager, stacked cords of dead coaches and ridiculous contracts between himself and the out door.

Butch Carter, the deep-voiced, commanding young coach, self-destructed before the ink was dry on his contract extension and left when he was discovered plotting to overthrow Grunwald.

Isiah Thomas arrived as the sweet-faced savant but bailed the second his takeover bid for the ownership of the club failed.

Vince Carter hit town as a joyful prodigy then morphed into today's frowning, pained superstar.

Touted as the club's supposed spiritual godfather, Charles Oakley instead proved himself a gibberish-spouting goofball fond of punching out opposing players in shootarounds and throwing passes like Ophelia on amphetamines.

The Raptors would have you believe next year will be better.

Please, no more promises. No more slogans. No more saviours.

I wouldn't fire Kevin O'Neill. Hell, I'd make him the general manager and I'll tell you why: Anyone who could so quickly become the target of the kind of sick, internal culture that has plagued this franchise must really have something on the ball.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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