Raptors lose again. They also throw out a fan for holding up a sign they don't like.
Great job all around, fellas.
Thanks to e-mailer Tim Farrell, who takes over the story from here, out of last night's latest bulletins:
"Did you happen to notice the fan sitting about 15 rows up on the west baseline last night, who got KICKED OUT for having a sign reading "RAPTOR KILLER" with a picture of Rob Babcock in devil horns?
HANS DERYK/TORONTO STAR T'd up and ejected for this sign.
"I caught up with this guy in Union after the game, figuring he had to at least be really wasted or something, but to my surprise he was fully coherent and seemed like a decent guy. He was just very angry.
"He told me he was warned not to hold up the sign during the game. Then with about 2:30 left, he was holding it up during a timeout, and got the boot. My question is this: Can they really kick him out for this? How is this really any different than allowing sportswriters such as yourself to sit courtside? They know that half the time you're just going to rip Babcock and the team in the papers the next day anyway.
Anyway, the whole thing seemed pretty silly. Your thoughts?"
I call that sign fair comment -- edgy, yes, and certainly out there in terms of getting personal as it puts a face on this failure. It certainly doesn't appear to be a clear breach of the NBA's fan code of conduct, which states among other things that "there will not be any obscene or indecent messages on signs or clothing." On the other hand, on the back of the tickets is a line prohibiting conduct deemed objectionable, which means if they don't like you, you're out. (Even if you're a fan like this one -- ie, a guy who actually cares.)
As for your other question, pro sports teams have banned or tried to ban reporters who they deem to be unfavourable -- in the Leafs' Ballard era, Pat Marsden was barred from entering MLG, and the Jays, in their early days, barred a Globe and Mail reporter -- but it's a pretty desparate move that comes in desparate times. Sort of like what this looks like -- a shot that hit too close to home, or in this case the front office. A desperate measure.
In the same vein of expressing opinion, a couple of comments from yesterday's Darrick Martin posting neatly cover the spectrum.
In one corner is Terri, not holding a sign, but instead throwing up her hands:
"Mr. Babcock, you can have all the salary cap room you want in 18 months or whenever, but it will mean nothing."
And in the other is Rick, preaching patience:
"I do not believe that the frenzy to jab and maul a basketball team with slings and arrows is fruitful for a franchise so early in development."
Over at Raptorblog, Scott Carefoot is unhappy with the small picture, specifically that Matt Bonner started at centre last night. Of course Bonner, a pop-out-and-shoot role player, was wrong for the job. But Sam Mitchell, who finally got up off his chair last night, doesn't have much of a choice. He's tried about everyone else, and unless he wants to start using the AMJ Campbell Move of the Game to determine his centre, it's Got. To. Be. Chris Bosh.
As for Mitchell, I'm not sure how a group as (mostly) young and inexperienced as this one is going to ascend a steep learning curve under a young, inexperienced coach. Mitchell's all wrong for them, just as Jalen Rose is -- but it appears due to the optics and the contracts they're stuck together, and we're stuck with them for a while yet.
Meantime, here's your Lottery Limbo Standings (Team-record-win pct-games behind in the hunt for the most May ping pong balls):
Toronto 0-8 .000 --
Atlanta 0-7 .000 1/2
New York 2-6 .250 2
NO/Okla City 2-5 .286 2 1/2
Charlotte 3-6 .333 2 1/2