Ex-GM happy for Chuck V.

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Rob Babcock hasn't had much to smile about lately, but the former Raptors general manager cracked a wide grin yesterday when told that Charlie Villanueva has been named to the Rookie Challenge, which will be played during the NBA all-star Weekend.

"That's terrific," Babcock said, while not surprised at the selection. "I would have been disappointed if he was not selected."

Babcock was ridiculed by basketball fans and the sports media throughout North America for selecting Villanueva with the team's seventh pick overall in last year's draft. But the normally mild-mannered basketball lifer, who was fired by the Raptors last Thursday, said he was happy for Villanueva, and nothing more.

Reached at his Toronto home yesterday, which is now up for sale, Babcock brushed aside suggestions that he would love to see what all the naysayers have to say right now and rub their noses in it.

"You know me, I don't need to go in that direction," Babcock said. "The fact that (he was selected) is good enough for me."

The rookie-sophomore game will be played on Feb. 17 at the Toyota Center in Houston.

Babcock insisted that he never took the overwhelming criticism about selecting Villanueva personally, but he did feel bad for his player.

"All the negatives things that were said were a whole lot tougher on him than on me," Babcock said. "The criticisms toward me were just about my pick. With Charlie, it was a personal attack."

Babcock said he is proud of the way Villanueva has handled himself this season.

"He has responded to it the right way, by believing in himself and getting to prove it on the floor and getting it done," Babcock said.

Villanueva shared his honour yesterday with the man who selected him.

"He was the main reason why I'm here and I always want to thank him for that. He's a good guy and I definitely carried that with me," Villanueva said.


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