Can Alston and Mitchell get along?

Originally Published: February 9, 2005
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
New Raptors GM Rob Babcock took over a team in shambles this summer.

He's finding out, the hard way, that rebuilding the only NBA franchise north of the border is about as easy as getting the NHL season back on track.

Tuesday night, the latest in a long line of blowups occurred when Rafer Alston left Gund Arena during the Raptors' 104-91 loss to the Cavaliers after coach Sam Mitchell pulled him in the first quarter.

Mitchell's season-long simmering feud with Alston has been well documented. In early December, Mitchell benched Alston for the fourth quarter of a loss at the Celtics for picking up a costly technical foul, then questioned Alston's maturity and held him out of the starting lineup the next night at Cleveland. Alston was so upset about the incident he threatened to leave the team and even said he might quit the NBA. More recently, Mitchell suspended Alston for two games for "conduct detrimental" to the team after the veteran guard walked out of practice.

In the latest incident, according to various accounts, Alston became upset that Mitchell refused to put him back in the game after pulling him with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. At halftime, a locker-room confrontation grew heated after Mitchell told Alston he would not be playing in the second half. What happened next depends on to whom you listen.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer