Raptors coach fought Alston, and Carter!

Sportsnet is reporting that “Almost two months before Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell reportedly challenged Rafer Alston to a fight this week, he was in an actual fight with the team’s former superstar, Vince Carter.Sources, including a member of the Raptors and Vince’s mother Michelle, have told Sportsnet that the incident took place in the Raptors’ locker room after the coach challenged Carter to a physical confrontation. Feeling provoked, Carter lifted Mitchell and slammed him down on the massage table, Michelle said.

In a 45-minute telephone interview with me on Friday, Michelle also revealed that she and Vince still hear frequently from members of the Raptors, who tell them Mitchell has many of them shaking their heads in disbelief and wanting out of Toronto. Sources have told Sportsnet that four Toronto players have asked management to be traded. The four: Eric Williams and Aaron Williams, who were traded to Toronto from the New Jersey Nets in the Carter deal, as well as Lamond Murray and Donyell Marshall.

“I just heard from Mo Pete (Morris Peterson) yesterday,” Michelle said, “and he’s very, very concerned. All the players are having a tough time with Sam Mitchell. It’s breaking my heart. These players shouldn’t have to put up with Mitchell’s nonsense. Many of the Raptors are like nephews to me. I’m sick about what Sam is doing to them.”

Michelle said she found out about the altercation between Mitchell and her son from the coach, not from her son, and she was stunned.

“Sam was talking about the incident at the team’s Christmas party to a bunch of people, right in front of Vince, his wife and myself,” Michelle said. “He just came out and said Vince whooped his ass, and I could tell it wasn’t just a figure of speech. So I asked Vince what happened. He told me he couldn’t take Sam’s challenges any more, so he picked him up and threw him on the massage table. That definitely happened. No question about it. And if anyone says it didn’t happen, they’re lying.”

A member of the Raptors told me Friday he witnessed the Carter-Mitchell incident in the locker room, and he also said it wasn’t much different than what took place at halftime between Mitchell and Alston in Cleveland this week, although the player said Alston restrained himself.

“All the Toronto players say Sam’s like that,” Michelle said. “They say he likes to challenge them physically to fights.

“I could see the signs of some irrational behaviour from Sam before what happened with my son, but, for me, that was the last straw. That’s when I really started praying. I said, ‘God, please get my child out of here.’ Thank God my prayer was answered. But still, I feel sorry for the other players who are still in Toronto.”

Michelle told me she believes the change of environment for Vince has helped him return to supertstar status.

“He couldn’t motivate himself to work for people like Sam Mitchell, (general manager) Rob Bab***** and (club president) Richard Peddie,” Michelle said. “I don’t care who you are, you want to be in a good working environment, working for people you like, not for people who challenge you to fights and treat you poorly and mislead you.

“I’m a teacher,” Michelle continued, “and I always thought coaches were like teachers. I always thought coaches should carry themselves with a certain degree of decorum and professionalism. That’s not happening in Toronto, believe me.”

Michelle said she has thought about speaking out publicly many times in the past few months but bit her tongue for fear that her remarks would be viewed as sour grapes from a malcontent’s mom. But hearing about the Alston confrontation gave her the incentive to open up and answer questions.

And she certainly opened up Friday with some comments that clearly stirred her emotions.

Coach Sam Mitchell


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