Martin has sage advice

Darrick Martin realizes the ultimate way of getting payback is by winning on the court. SUN...

Darrick Martin realizes the ultimate way of getting payback is by winning on the court. SUN MEDIA/Dave Abel

FRANK ZICARELLI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:33 AM ET

Darrick Martin has been around the NBA block long enough to know one just doesn't knock a player's block off as a means of retribution.

The culture that is basketball just doesn't allow for such fistic moments of payback, unless, of course, one is willing to feel the wrath of NBA commissioner David Stern.

The issue of hardwood vengeance was raised yesterday as the Raptors prepared for tonight's tip against the Pacers in Indianapolis.

During Toronto's three-game win streak, a flagrant foul has been delivered three times by an opposing player, including a shot to Martin on Wednesday when Eddie Jones of the Dallas Mavericks hit the point guard in the eye.

Back when Charles Oakley was mangling his metaphors, an eye-for-eye code was understood, if not enforced.

But today's game is dotted with young, athletic stars in a climate where hard fouls are not common, let alone committed.

As early as last spring's post-season, Stern's stern message was made loud and clear when the league suspended Amare Stoudemire after Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash was manhandled by San Antonio's Robert Horry.

Stoudemire was suspended, a momentum-shifting moment that allowed the Spurs to eclipse the Suns en route to winning the NBA championship.

"The fines deter you from seeking out revenge," Martin mused. "You can't push or shove a guy. You'll say things to that guy, but the days of Oakley are no more."

In a market where puck-heads rule and hockey's culture goes unchallenged, for the most part, Martin saw first-hand the byproduct of on-ice retribution.

Martin sat at the Air Canada Centre March 20 as Leafs enforcer Wade Belak sought out Devils tough guy Cam Janssen, who in a previous game applied a late hit to Tomas Kaberle.

"That was my first ever hockey game," Martin said. "In hockey, fighting is accepted. I understood what Belak was trying to do.

"That (initiating a fight) was expected. We just don't have that in the game of basketball."

At least not in today's game, which some would argue is too soft and too perimeter-oriented.

The issue of payback hit home in Atlanta on Tuesday when Hawks rookie Al Horford struck a driving T.J. Ford over the head, sending the injury-prone Raptors guard to hospital. Horford was suspended for one game by the NBA yesterday.

"We all initially jumped up, but you have to control yourself," Martin said. "You want to defend him. You pick your spots and you have to be clever about it."

Martin realizes the ultimate way of paying back is by winning, a trait that has defined these Raptors this past week.


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