Felton: Boos Made Me Laugh, It Was Funny
The return of Raymond Felton to the Rose Garden came and ended just like his tumultuous lone season in Portland: a disappointing 11 points on a four-for-12 shooting evening that saw his New York Knicks take a thumping by the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers 105-90 on Thursday night.
When the starting lineup was introduced and Felton's name was announced, a mass of boos showered the sellout Rose Garden arena. Every time Felton touched the ball, he was booed. Every time he missed a shot or turned the ball over, the audience rejoiced with joy and laughter. The entire game.
“Boos? No. This is my first time ever,” Felton said after the game when asked if he had been booed before. “My first time ever in my career.”
There wasn't one time tonight when Felton held that little orange ball and didn't hear those chants of displeasure. You really have to give the Trail Blazer fans credit for their consistency and alertness.
But I pose the question: What were the boos for, exactly?
There have been a plethora of athletes before Felton who came into training camp out of shape only to have miserable seasons. He definitely falls in that boat. After playing one (shortened lockout) season for the Trail Blazers, Felton has somehow become a villain around these neck of the woods.
Did he have a problem with how then-Head Coach Nate McMillan ran things? Yes he did, at times. So did everyone else on the team. That's common in any locker room, but he was far from a cancer.
“He was great teammate, great person,” Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews said. “He wasn't cancerous in the locker room at all. Ray played through a lot of injuries too, because he liked us.
“He could have shut it down. He could have gone into his free agency year and said 'I'm not going to play unless I'm 100 percent,' but he didn't. He was professional about everything. I don't have anything negative to say about Ray.”
Felton wasn't professional about everything. I don't condone calling out media members and inviting them to meet you at your crib nor do I condone his “I'm not going to speak to certain people” attitude. That rubs people the wrong way, thus opening the door for negative criticisms and sometimes even uncalled for criticisms/remarks.
Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas, now members of the Knicks, were on that 2011-12 Trail Blazer team, as well. They were rumored to have it in for McMillan also. It wasn't true, but that was the talk.
But I digress. When their names were introduced tonight, hand clapping and cheers followed immediately after. Both Camby and Thomas aren't sure to why they were treated differently, but felt the need to address what they call “false” reporting regarding last year's situation.
“Ray was great last year,” Camby said. “He came in admittedly out of shape. All that stuff I'm hearing about him being in the locker room bashing Nate was totally false. I've never experienced that or never seen that. He just couldn't find his rhythm.
“It was a lockout year, a new team trying to adjust to a coach that didn't know his style of play. So it was definitely tough for him his first year. But I know that if he came in better shape, things would have worked out great for him.”
Thomas weighs in.
“He was great, he just had a little bad stretch there,” Thomas said. “Some of the fans kind of went against him but in that locker room he was solid. Raymond is a great teammate on and off the floor.”
Me personally, I've never had an issue with Felton. He has always been accommodating and made himself available when requested. I would admit that he's not the easiest guy to root for due to his defensive and sometimes controversial responses, but you know what you're getting out of him is real.
If the majority of folk go one way, I tend to take a step back and analyze the situation for myself, often choosing a different path. And that's where I'm headed now. I don't do the fat jokes nor do I character assassinate. These athletes are human beings.
Felton probably did deserve to get booed for coming into town out of shape and even for his attitude at times. But that's about it. Why did you boo?