Originally created 04/29/00

Toronto players criticize coach for distractions



TORONTO -- Butch Carter has been blaming officials and contract problems for his Toronto Raptors' two losses in New York. Now his players are blaming him.

"One thing you don't do is take the focus away from what the real objective is, and that's to win games," guard Dee Brown said Friday. "If you bring the outside stuff to the team you're going to have splinters."

On Thursday, Carter said:

"The biggest advantage the Knicks have over us is that their top eight guys are all under contract and focused on winning.Winning is the only thing they think about. It's not the case here."

Guard Doug Christie, for one, didn't appreciate those words.

"For him to say that is ludicrous and to be expected. You say dumb stuff when you're in a position where you can't point the finger at anybody else."

Butch Carter as much as Vince Carter, the team's star, has been the focus of this best-of-five series, which resumes Sunday in Toronto with the Knicks leading 2-0.

In a book he wrote with his brother, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, Carter accused his former college coach, Indiana's Bobby Knight, of calling a player a racist name. He also endured criticism from his veteran players for calling so many plays for Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady.

Just before the start of the series, Butch Carter sued Knicks forward Marcus Camby, claiming the ex-Raptor called him a "liar" and said many players don't like him. Camby noted that he was traded to the Knicks just days after Carter promised to build the Raptors around him.

The suit was dropped earlier this week.

Then, the coach said the Raptors don't have a vocal leader on their team.

"That's a bailout saying there's no leaders on the team. I think everyone is trying to win," Brown said. "We came up short on two games, and to say there is not a leader, I just really think is a cop out."

Antonio Davis, who has an opt-out clause after next season, didn't know what to make of Carter's comments.

"I hope he wasn't talking about me because now is not the time to be thinking about my contract situation," Davis said. "I don't think there are too many guys who are worried about their contracts."

Three of the nine players Carter uses in his rotation will be free agents this year: McGrady, Brown and Muggsy Bogues. The other six are signed through at least 2001-02.

"I've been a free agent all year, that hasn't been a distraction. Why should it be a distraction now because it's playoff time. Timing has hasn't been something this organization has been good at," Brown said.

Carter said his comments had nothing to do with the pressure of coaching a team in the playoffs for the first time.

"You ever grow up the oldest of seven kids and all you have for dinner to eat is oatmeal? When you grow up like that that's pressure," he said. "When you go off to college and your mom has seven kids at home and can't send you any money, if she calls you crying, saying, 'I can't help you,' that's pressure."

"This is not pressure. This is a business, it's a mean business, but it's not pressure. Every day I wake up I feel blessed that I have this job. The biggest problem is that it's our first time in the dance, so everybody is a little more sensitive."

Meanwhile, the team has to refocus for Sunday's game, which could send the Raptors home.

"We can't let this all interfere with the team," Vince Carter said. "We have to come focused every night, because if you don't you can easily get blown away."