Raps should fight for Zo

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

Alonzo Mourning has two things in common with Vince Carter. One, they were traded for each other.

Two, they have about the same probability of playing here again.

Fair enough.

Indulge me.

Let's assume Mourning has something left. Never mind an injury list that reads like the New England Journal of Medicine's top 100 hits.

Do you want 34-year-old Alonzo Mourning on your team for $16 million US per season, even if he can only play, say, 15 minutes a night?

Uh, yeah.

Mourning is a sure-fire Hall of Famer who embodies the very elements the franchise so desperately covets: Dependability, competitiveness, ferocity.

Imagine the effect a year or two of his tutelage would yield for Chris Bosh, the Raptors spindly star of the future.

"Or Rafael Araujo or Matt Bonner," coach Sam Mitchell was saying yesterday after practice. "Alonzo Mourning is a warrior. He lays it on the line and he does it every night."

Mourning isn't happy about the trade. Apparently, he wants to be traded to a contender. Waaaah.

If the Raps want Mourning, they should take a hard line. And in Mitchell, they have a man with that kind of inclination.

"When you get traded, your job is to report, be professional and do the job," Mitchell said. "The contract doesn't say you play for this team but you don't play for that team."

God bless Sam Mitchell for giving voice to what is always true but never said.

Never mind all that new age 'you can't make people want to play here' garbage.

All that begets is more deserters.

You can't make Damon Stoudamire stay if he doesn't want to, so you trade him to Portland. Ask Stoudamire, he'll tell you. Leaving the Raptors was the biggest mistake of his professional career.

Ask Antonio Davis, who worried the metric system would mess up his kids. How this for metric: Five points a game this season with the Chicago Bulls.

If your team is worth it, you tell people, 'Dammit, come here. You will thank me for this later.' "

Once you say people don't have to be somewhere if they don't want to, they stop wanting to.

Most employees don't want to get up on snowy Monday mornings. Most people don't want to pay parking fines. Most parents don't want to make the hard decisions and risk their kids love to induce the right thing out of them.

Life is hard.

Zo should be delighted to come North.

The Raptors are a young organization, obviously committed to long-term player development, team play and old-school values. What better place for an old-school player to learn the business and maybe make a transition into coaching or management?

What's the alternative? To trade in your once great game so you can hitch your fading skills to a bunch of young studs and cop a ring.

Is that what a champion does?

What the Raptors need is a mensch who wears short pants. The only one they have wears a suit 82 nights a year. A mensch does the hard things. He honours his commitments. He thinks about people other than himself. He emboldens people. He builds things. Mourning would have the chance to do that here.

Now, it would take some arm twisting from Mitchell or general manager Rob Babcock to make him come. Guess what?

Every day, people go to jobs they took when there was nowhere else to go.

Somewhere along the line, they decided they liked the people or were wrong about the town. They decided they had something to give. They just needed a little nudge.

The prospect of losing $18 million US over three years should be enough of a nudge for anyone.

If the Raptors really want Alonzo Mourning, push should come to shove.


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