Former NBA player and true streetball legend Rafer Alston also known as Skip 2 My Lou, recently made a guest appearance on the VladTV podcast. Alston talked about his early life and transition to become an NBA player after solidifying his name as the best streetball player in the world. His journey is truly inspiring, and after finally making it to the big league, he had his ups and downs even though he had a remarkable NBA career.
Alston talked about his worst experience as an NBA player, which happened when he was a member of the Toronto Raptors. That was his second stint with the Raptors, and even though he signed a multi-year deal with the team, he had a horrible relationship with their head coach Sam Mitchell. He gave more details on how the coach mistreated the players throughout that entire season, making Alston’s playing days a complete hell in Toronto. Calling players b***hes and constantly showcasing disrespect caused numerous frustrations not just from Alston but other teammates as well.
It was the coach that I was never going to get a pass. I was never going to pass Sam Mitchell and his utter disrespect for us as men and as basketball players. One time he came into the locker room and called us b***es. The next time, the other game, he is in the locker room talking about what women we have in our rooms or when we go out and stuff like that—his utter disrespect at us as men, human beings, and basketball players.Rafer Alston, via VladTv
Alston explained why he was so upset with the way Mitchell treated him and the team, and it’s connected to him growing up in a place where disrespect among grown-up men caused violence and even death. When he made it to the NBA, he initially thought that type of behavior was nonexistent, so his interaction with Mitchell changed how he perceived the league. Even though he was thankful for the long-term deal and hoped to stay with the Raptors because he thought they have a bright future as a franchise, he couldn’t stand Mithcell and asked to be traded to another team.
Where I am from, where I grew up, and things that I had to watch and see disrespect led to death where I am from. I saw people lose their life because of disrespect. So now I am a grown man, and I see another grown man, and he just has utter disrespect, and what hurt me the most is that when a professional said it, and there isn’t much that we could do to him. He could tell us this and get away with it, and there isn’t much we can say because he is the coach, and we are the players, and we have to sit there and take a foot up our rear end. I was thinking we didn’t have to grow up like that, and if someone disrespects you as a men, you have to go to that man and let him know I am not tolerating that.Rafer Alston, via VladTv
The Raptors actually did Alston a favor when they traded him because he joined a super competitive Houston Rockets squad led by Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Alston played in the NBA until 2010, when he was a member of the Miami Heat but soon after retired from basketball. On the other hand, Mitchell was the head coach for the Raptors until 2008 and never had a head-coaching position in the NBA afterward. He was obviously never good enough to keep a head coaching position in the league because his relationship with players was obviously something he didn’t put much effort into.
There is much to be said about the relationship between players and coaches in the NBA. We’ve seen everything – from great friendly relationships to those in which there were physical altercations between a coach and a player. However, the reality is that coaches no longer have the power they used to have within a team, and now superstar players dictate many things that previously were out of their realm of influence. We’ve seen that trend evolve, especially in the last couple of years, with the increase of player empowerment and players having more power than ever before.
For example, things are much different for coaches in Europe, where all the authority lies within the head coach. You can see European coaches cussing out players like it’s nothing all the time, and nobody even flinches because that is the difference in culture. Nobody says that is the right way to do things, but US players are more sensitive to that type of behavior from the coaches. Obviously, nowadays, it’s hard to find a coach that will act like that in the NBA unless it’s Gregg Popovich, but his methods are old-school and not so common among the younger generation of coaches.