He’s the same guy who was kicked off his junior-college team after he, according to a 1997 report in the Los Angeles Times, dropped a weight on the groin of a sleeping teammate with whom he had argued.
He’s the same guy who faced misdemeanour battery charges twice in the late 1990s, once for beating up a neighbour who complained Alston’s music was too loud, another time for striking a former girlfriend outside the weight room at Fresno State University.
He’s the same guy who spent a month in county jail after he refused to complete the anger-management course that was a condition of his parole in one of those cases; who spent the 1998-99 season on the NBA’s suspended list because of his prolific entanglements with the justice system.
So if you’re of the belief that people rarely change ” and that coddled street-ball superstars who’ve been heralded as legends since puberty have almost no impetus to play by the rules of society ” this season’s Alston-centric turbulence isn’t exactly a shocker.
Raptors GM Rob Babcock, when asked earlier this season about Alston’s many transgressions, sloughed them off as ancient history. He said Alston’s a changed man, a “character guy,” even. But perhaps that’s because Alston never had a long-term guaranteed contract until he landed in Toronto this summer. Perhaps that’s because now that Alston is a guaranteed multi-millionaire ” unless, that is, he does something crazy and quits the league ” there’s little incentive to snuff his short, short fuse.
One night in Boston last month, Alston threatened to quit the NBA after Mitchell benched him for taking an ill-advised technical foul. It wasn’t a heat-of-the-moment threat. The next morning, Alston was still simmering, still talking as though he was considering a career on another continent and the forfeiture of millions.
You could almost see his side of the argument. He pointed out he was one of a short list of Raptors who was actually busting his butt, and he was right.
But that message got lost in Alston’s I’m-outta-here hyperbole. It was only a couple of weeks later that he finally admitted his words had been “irrational.” But Alston had already embarrassed the club, not to mention himself, on that occasion. Now he’s done it again. And if you’ve been following his career for the past decade, can you really claim surprise?