Damon knows about turmoil

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

Damon Stoudamire has the perfect word to describe the Raptors.

"As I look back on the situation, from when I left (Toronto) to what's going on now, it looks like it's just kind of redundant," said Stoudamire, whose Portland Trail Blazers were at the Air Canada Centre for an NBA pre-season game last night.

Redundant.

If ever there were an appropriate term to describe the Raptors through the years, that's it.

Back in Stoudamire's Toronto days, there were questions about how committed the club was to winning, or whether it would try to operate on the cheap. Those questions remain today.

After former Raptors general manager Isiah Thomas bolted in the fall of 1997, his protege Stoudamire asked to be traded.

Current Raptors star Vince Carter made a similar request last month, although it wasn't out of any sense of loyalty to recently departed GM Glen Grunwald.

"Every time somebody has a complaint, it's the same complaint," said Stoudamire, who was the face of the Toronto franchise for 21/2 years before things fell apart. "It's unfortunate, though, because I don't think the people here deserve it.

"(The Raptors) have personnel where they can turn it around, but it has been tough. There has been a lot of overhaul in the organization, from players to management. It seems every time they get something going, there's always something else that happens."

Of course, much the same thing can be said about Stoudamire's Trail Blazers, and that irony is not lost upon him. Hard as it is to believe, the 31-year-old Stoudamire is entering his seventh season with the Blazers, although he'll be a free agent next year.

"We're sitting up here talking about an overhaul in Toronto, when I'm the last one here in Portland," said Stoudamire, recalling the long-lost makeup of the home-town club he was dealt to in 1998. "From guys getting traded, and then getting traded again, I'm the last guy here. I never would have thought I'd be with one team for seven years, only because there's always so much change in pro sports."

The Blazers, no matter how much they change their personnel, can't seem to shake the pattern of questionable off-court behaviour that has plagued the franchise for more than a decade. And imagine, someone in the Blazers front office decided during the off-season that the perfect man to add to this situation was Nick Van Exel.

Sure, Rasheed Wallace is long gone, but young forward Qyntel Woods lurched at the bad-boy baton. Woods was suspended by the Blazers on Oct. 12 after news surfaced that he allegedly had abandoned a pitbull after the pooch declined to take part in an illegal dog fight.

With the pitbull ban here in Ontario, Woods likely won't be joining the Raptors any time soon.

True, the Raptors usually are involved in some kind of turmoil, too. But it's usually the goofy kind, like players bitching about parking spaces or a slight delay in the delivery of free food.

Turmoil in Portland, on the other hand, often results in police searches and court dates.

Amid such a bizarre atmosphere, Stoudamire has struggled to flourish.

He hasn't helped himself at times, with his own drug-related run-ins with the law.

He still aches to win, but you can see in his eyes that he wonders if it ever is going to happen.

Stoudamire said he spent a lot of time this summer hanging out with ol' buddy Wallace, who won an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons last spring. Did Wallace ever mockingly wave his championship ring in Stoudamire's face?

"Naw, I was happy for Rasheed," Stoudamire said with a half-grin.

"I am a little jealous. But you know, hopefully I can get there."

Hoping to win a championship, someday.

The dream lives, even though it's as redundant as the Raptors.


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