Basketball

Raptors coach defends his record

Toronto Raptors head coach Kevin O'Neill took the opportunity Friday to refute a Globe and Mail article that stated his job is in a precarious position.

According to a Friday article in the Globe, players and management have grown tired of his behaviour, both off an on the court.

The article stated that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., which owns the NBA club, is concerned about a recent incident where O'Neill smashed a lamp in a Phoenix hotel room.

The article, which cited several different anonymous sources, stated O'Neill's future with the Raptors wouldn't be solely decided on his win-loss record. Prior to Friday's game against the Knicks, Toronto (30-41) was one and a half games behind eighth-place Cleveland for the final playoff slot in the Eastern Conference.

The newspaper also spoke with several former and current players who voiced characterized O'Neill's behaviour during games as abrasive.

O'Neill defended his reputation to a throng of reporters Friday in New York prior to the Raptors' game against the Knicks.

"I want to address a couple things," said O'Neill. "I did break a lamp in Phoenix. If you found out at 1:30 in the morning that (Raptors guard) Jalen Rose had just broken four bones in his hand and you knew what the outcome was going to be, you would have broken a lamp, too."

"The bottom line is, I have not been arrested, I have not been under any felony investigations," he said. "I have not done anything that I am ashamed of one bit."

O'Neill also slammed the newspaper for using unattributed quotes and anonymous sources.

"Here we are in a playoff run and this kind of petty stuff is making news, I don't think it's right," he said. "I don't think it's right for those people to do that ... I don't mind putting my name on any quote I ever say."

Several players were quick to come to O'Neill's defence Friday, including Rose.

"To give validity to unnamed sources is like giving validity to a coward. If you really have something that you want to say or an opinion that you want to express, be a man in this industry and stand up and speak your piece."

"He's a fiery guy, he wants to win," added Vince Carter. "This is a frustrating time right now because there's so much going on, we're trying to win, we're trying to get over the hump and get into the playoff spot."

with files from CP Online