Babcock visits Raptors

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

Less than three weeks after he was fired by the Raptors, ex-general manager Rob Babcock decided to spend a free night watching the team live.

The Minneapolis resident made the short drive to the Target Center last night to check out the Raptors-Minnesota Timberwolves game. Before the game, he shook hands and had friendly chats with a number of the players. He said he didn't hesitate in coming to the game.

"I'm still pulling for them," Babcock said.

Since he was fired Jan. 26, Babcock said he probably has watched more game tape than he did during his 1 1/2-season tenure in Toronto as general manager.

"If anybody wants my services," Babcock said with a smile, "I'll be more prepared than I've ever been."

Many negative things have been said about Babcock, but he has handled his dismissal with class. In the week after the firing, he attended a charity event he had previously committed to in Toronto and led some children in a cheer for the Raptors.

SKATE AROUND

With the Raptors on the road for 2 1/2 weeks and the Maple Leafs off for the Olympic break, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. is opening the doors of the Air Canada Centre for a free public skate Friday.

Forty-five minute sessions run from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., with a maximum of 250 people allowed on the ice at one time. Participants can enter the ACC through Gate 1.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK

The final game before all-star weekend usually is something of a getaway day for players, but this season's pre-all-star tilt is a juicy one.

The Raptors will face the Knicks in New York tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden, marking rookie forward Charlie Villanueva's first game in his hometown and Antonio Davis' first game in the Big Apple since he was traded to Toronto for Jalen Rose and a first-round pick. Feb. 3.

The Knicks had lost five games in a row with Rose and nine overall entering last night. With Davis, the Raptors are 3-1 after last night's win against the Timberwolves.


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