And one

Sports blotter: "NBA Street" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  September 5, 2007


Slash 2 my Lou
Let’s play a game — it’s called “Celebrity Take-the-Hint.” Our contestant today is Houston Rockets point guard Rafer “Skip 2 My Lou” Alston, the first And-1/streetball hero to get a real run in the NBA. Skippy’s got a mad handle, a sick crossover, and two arrests in this past month alone. Let’s see if he can . . . take the hint!

Rafe started 82 games this past year, averaging 13.3 points and 5.4 assists per game for a team that made the playoffs. He played more minutes than anyone else on his squad. He doesn’t totally suck. And yet, when the Rockets’ season ended following yet another early, ignominious playoff exit, one of the team’s first moves was to trade forward Juwan Howard for point guard Mike James. The previous season, Houston had traded James to get Alston. Then, after reacquiring the man Alston originally replaced, the team used its first-round draft pick to take another point guard, Aaron Brooks — like Alston, an undersized offensive specialist with subpar court awareness. But after adding two players at Rafe’s position, the team still wasn’t done. Late in the summer, it signed newly waived ex-Knick Steve Francis, another former Rocket. Now the team had added three point guards.

Now, you or I probably wouldn’t respond to three new threats to our job by running out and spitting on/assaulting the first parking-lot attendant we could find. But that’s exactly what Skippy did. On August 5 in Houston, Alston got into it with a lot manager after his car got towed. He allegedly shook and spit at the man (a nice combination of Tyson-esque lot-attendant abuse and Pacman-esque spitting), and then afterward, when the case became public, insisted that the incident had been blown out of proportion by “individuals who stand to profit.” Charged with misdemeanor assault and public intoxication, Rafe was now free to head north, to New York . . .

. . . where some weeks later, Alston was at it again, this time with 41-year-old Wilbert Ashman, at a trendy club called Stereo. Police say Ashman got into an altercation with Alston and eventually had to call police after driving himself to the hospital with a slash wound in his neck. Alston, however — just as he had with the parking-lot guy — proclaimed his innocence right away. Moreover, a bouncer who worked at Stereo vouched for Alston, saying he’d walked the player out of the building without any knife play.

Still, it doesn’t look good for Alston. Rockets GM Daryl Morey had this to say about the man whose on-court play inspired the addition of three new starting-caliber point guards in the same half-season:

“We became aware of the incident early this morning. Obviously, it is troubling that Rafer was again in a situation involving the police. We take these matters very seriously — the Rockets expect all employees to represent the organization in a first-class manner. Until more facts are gathered from all parties, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”

Can Rafe take the hint? Is he aware that this statement actually means As soon as we figure out how, we’re launching this Rocket out of our hair.

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