Counterpoint

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Rafer Alston does not feel as if he has been picked on this season, but he made it clear he does not agree with Jalen Rose's assessment of the Raptors. "Some of the things (Rose) said, you never should say about your teammates," Alston said yesterday.

"One comment was that some of us aren't playing to win games. So what are we playing for? It was mind-boggling. And a lot of us are like: 'So, you're the only one playing hard?' We all know that's not the case."

VAGUE BUT VICIOUS

After an ugly loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, Rose -- who hadn't played in the fourth quarter -- unleashed a vague but vicious verbal attack on some of his teammates. To be fair, he never named names. But Alston's reaction yesterday confirmed he had taken Rose's words personally.

When Rose was asked last night if he wanted to amend or add anything to his comments from two days previous, he said he would "let it stand."

"I haven't named anybody personally," Rose said. "If responsible commentary is taken personally, I guess if the shoe fits you have to wear it."

Alston was asked for his take on the club's chemistry.

"The chemistry on our team has been rocky," said Alston, the starting point guard. "But I've read almost every paper and every column, and none of us, even myself, I haven't said any negative thing about my teammates. A lot of us are upset at that. We expressed our feelings to coach (Sam Mitchell) about that.

"When we were losing early in the year, I showed my displeasure. But like a man, I said it was my fault. What (Rose) said is not sitting well with a lot of us."

Alston said he particularly was irked because in the locker room after the loss in Orlando, Mitchell asked if anyone had anything to say.

"This man (Rose) chose not to say anything to the players, but he chose to say stuff behind our back and to the media," Alston said. "So now a lot of us are starting to wonder. It's not right. It's not right, at all."

Does Alston feel the need to speak privately with Rose?

"No. Rose needs to talk to us," Alston said.

Mitchell said he talked to Rose about his comments, which ranged from general accusations that the team's problems are "self-inflicted," to references to two specific incidents that, coincidentally or not, involved Alston. Rose insisted he was not upset with the coaches, but with some of the players.

"I've spoken to Jalen and he has to understand we're a team. We're building something. Everybody here is going to be part of it and everybody is not going to play great every night," Mitchell said. "The Orlando game was just bad. But as I've learned, if you're frustrated the best thing to do is wait a day and calm down."

Alston's role as the point guard and Rose's role as the ranking veteran has led to tension all season. Alston believes he should have imposed his will as an on-court leader more forcefully.

"I'm not the star of this team. Chris Bosh is," Alston said. "He leads in his way and I love how he leads. But I should have taken more of a leadership role from the point guard's standpoint. That's what I'm going to work on this summer, so I can come in here next season and run the show like a point guard should."

Alston understands that because of his surprisingly lengthy and lucrative contract, his emotional threat to retire early in the season, his suspension for walking out of practice and his heated battles with his teammates and his coach, he has given his critics -- both inside and outside the team -- plenty of ammunition.

NO VICTIM'S CAP

Still, Alston won't don a victim's cap.

"No, not at all," Alston said when asked if he feels he has been singled out. "I don't have a problem with Coach getting on me. I don't have a problem with players saying, come on, pick it up. That's what I want. When you guys write something (negative) about me, I understand. I gave every reason for people to do that.

"Being a point guard is like being a quarterback. If a quarterback wins the Super Bowl, he's the greatest. If he loses, he's the worst. It comes with the position.

"But I don't think I've been picked on."

Neither Alston nor Rose is afraid to be at the centre of the storm. But it's crowded when they're in there together.


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