Sow gets no respect

Even his teammates give little-used Raptor tough time

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

PORTLAND -- Raptors forward Pape Sow does not have the measles, mumps or any other contagious disease.

But you might think so, after watching him receive treatment on a trainer's table inside the team's locker room at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg.

The second-year NBAer has missed all but one of the team's seven pre-season games because of a groin injury. And when you're not a star player and you're not playing or practising, you're basically persona non grata. Your teammates either ignore you or worse.

As Sow answered a reporter's questions following Toronto's 105-98 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night, a veteran player scoffed as he walked by toward the shower, commenting under his breath about how ridiculous it is that someone who has not played in six games is giving interviews.

On the other side of the room, another vet quietly chanted: "Africa ... Africa ... Africa," as the native of Senegal discusses the frustrations of not being able to play and continue his NBA development, after completing last year's season on a high note.

Sow and the Raptors coaching staff was hoping for a breakout season from the 6-foot-10 forward this year. Instead, once his groin injury has cleared up, the soft-spoken giant may be shipped to the team's NBA Development League affiliate in Little Rock, Ark. Nothing's definite, but by the time the injury has healed, the regular season will have started (Nov. 2 against the Washington Wizards) and it will be difficult for Sow to crack coach Sam Mitchell's rotation if he hasn't played significant minutes in the pre-season.

"This is something I don't want," Sow said. "But everything happens for a reason and you have to keep positive and support your teammates."

Even if he does get shipped to Arkansas, Sow, 23, is absolutely convinced that he will return quickly and establish himself this season as a bonafide NBA power forward, and bring to the Raptors an element that currently is lacking, namely rebounds and toughness in the frontcourt.

"That's what I was working for all summer," said Sow, who spent the off-season training near Los Angeles. "Every year I'm getting better. I just have to keep my focus, think positive and hopefully soon, I'll be back on the court."

Sow's stats from his rookie season don't exactly scream future all-star. He averaged 2.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in 27 games.

But as the 2004-05 campaign neared completion, Sow, who was activated on March 4 after missing 33 games with left knee tendinitis, really came into his own after Mitchell began to give him extra minutes.

In Toronto's final four games of the season, Sow played like a seasoned vet, posting a career-best nine rebounds in 25 minutes on April 19 in Milwaukee after recording eight points, seven boards and a three steals on April 17 against the Boston Celtics.


Videos

Photos