Are they too soft?

Morris Peterson does his best to contain an enraged Chris Bosh during Sunday's game against the...

Morris Peterson does his best to contain an enraged Chris Bosh during Sunday's game against the Sacramento Kings. Bosh was ejected for the first time in his young NBA career. (Toronto Sun/Dave Abel)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

The Raptors have a reputation for being a dysfunctional organization, which certainly isn't news to anyone who knows the difference between a basketball and a puck.

The team also has a reputation for being soft.

The head coach has a reputation for being a bit of a crazy man. Which is true, although that's not necessarily a bad thing.

A Sam Mitchell rant truly is something to behold, particularly when he is in a good mood. Ask him about kidnapping reporters.

Rob Babcock, the outgoing general manager, had a reputation for being too nice in the dog-eat-dog world of pro basketball.

And so on, and so forth.

As far as reputations go, the Raptors certainly have their share of bad ones. So the last thing this team needs is another reputation, especially the reputation of being a bunch of whiners.

That, unfortunately, may soon be their new reality.

Throughout this season, there have been whispers that, game in and game out, the Raptors have been getting the short end of the stick in terms of fouls being called against them on defence and fouls not going their way on offence.

The Raptors play five first- and second-year players on a regular basis, and the consensus is because many of the players are so young, the officials are not giving this team any so-called reputation fouls.

That is, when a star player from another team takes the ball hard to the basket against Rafael Araujo, and there's any hint of contact, there automatically is going to be a call against Araujo.

Hell, it's no secret that star players, the Allen Iversons, the Kobe Bryants, etc., get the so-called reputation calls. The same with the top batters in Major League Baseball. A borderline strike on a pitch against Ted Williams would probably be called a ball. The same pitch on the Blue Jays' Russ Adams is a strike.

However, complaining after the fact about fouls in the NBA is not done. Coach Mitchell, for instance, recoiled yesterday when asked about the theory that his squad gets more than its fair share of bad calls.

"I'm not giving the NBA my money. You crazy? I'm not paying out a $25,000 or $50,000 fine (for talking about the referees)," said Mitchell, mortified at the thought of angering the officials.

Still, Mitchell acknowledged there certainly is something to the reputation-call theory and that young players, such as Araujo, Chris Bosh and Pape Sow have to earn respect from the officials in order to have any close calls go their way. Pro sports being the way it is, Mitchell is reluctant to discuss the topic.

"I'm not going to go down that road," he said. "We're told that (reputations calls) do not happen and I'm going to go on the assumption that it doesn't happen."

The Raptors are in the top third in the NBA in terms of the total number of fouls levied against them, which is surprising given this is one of the least aggressive teams in the league.

It took Bosh, the club's young star, to finally go on the record and say what many have been grumbling about this season. Which is, Toronto, as a team, gets the short end of the stick in terms of calls by the referees.

Bosh understands you can't win this argument, that he and his team will be called whiners for bringing it up.

But he doesn't care.

BRIGHT FUTURE

Bosh is enjoying a break-out season and has his entire career in front of him. He has nothing to gain by talking about it. But the Dallas native, who was ejected for the first time in 201 career NBA games on Sunday against the Sacramento Kings, believes it has to be said, although he also believes the so-called bad calls and non-calls are because he and his teammates have not built up a reputation within the league.

"I don't know what it is (for sure)," he said. "If you miss that many calls, I don't know if it's lack of respect or not seeing it, I don't know what it is.

"We have that feeling (of getting shafted), but we can't let that be an excuse. (Sunday) night (when the Raptors were nailed with a season-high 35 personal fouls) we could have easily said we lost the game because of that ... but they didn't give up and they kept playing despite what happened."


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