Paying Mourning wrong

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:30 AM ET

When i grow up, I want Alonzo Mourning's job.

There are no hours and the pay is unbelievable.

You don't have to go to work. You don't have to be accountable. You get to live in the Florida sunshine.

And in 20 days as a Raptor, without even bothering to show your face, you can take home $636,317 US, give or take a penny.

The Raptors, you should know, didn't have to pay Mourning a dime. They were under neither legal nor ethical obligation to do so. They could have and probably should have suspended him the minute they made the deal for Vince Carter knowing full well he wasn't showing up.

But instead -- and we wonder what the corporate governance-chirping Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund thinks of this -- they seem perfectly happy to throw good money after bad, paying Mourning what remains of the $5.4-million deal for this year and who knows what of the future.

"There was no reason to suspend him," Raptors general manager Rob Babcock said, in an explanation that defies logic.

The Raptors are either playing the part of nice guy or rube. You choose which fits better.

BITE-HARD PART

They are forced to take Mourning in trying to rid themselves of the $30 million remaining on Carter's contract. That was the bite-hard part of the deal. But under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA, though, Mourning was transferred from the roster of the New Jersey Nets to the roster of the Raptors.

He was not placed on the injured list until Dec. 27, or nine days after the deal was consummated. At any time, they could have stopped paying him.

"We agreed in making the trade that we would waive (giving him) the physical and we would waive the reporting date," Babcock said. "We knew up front he was unlikely to play here. We knew he could not pass the physical.

"It's not like we were blindsided here."

But still no real answer for why they have to pay a player who will never contribute here.

NBA players are paid by the day. A season is calculated out at 170 days. For every day that Mourning is a Raptor, he will earn $31,815.88.

BREAKING DOWN

No Raptors doctor has bothered to check him out, even though all New Jersey sources indicate that Mourning's body is breaking down in many different areas. Babcock said it's common practice for one team's medical staff to accept the diagnosis of another team's medical staff.

That, of course, is bafflegab. If Babcock truly believes what he is saying all he is doing is exposing himself as a rookie. All you have to do is reference the files of Alvin Williams or Danny Fortson or Robert Horry to know differently.

Alonzo Mourning wants to play somewhere else in the NBA, just not here. He knows he has little left and wants a shot at winning a championship. Probably as a backup centre. He would love to play in Miami, or maybe Dallas or Phoenix or Minnesota.

He isn't saying. His agent isn't saying. His agent isn't even bothering to return telephone calls. And if I was taking the money and not running, I wouldn't be returning calls either.

At least, Hakeem Olajuwon had the good graces to break down before our very eyes. It was a sad and expensive ending.

This is just expensive and unnecessary.


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