The Pitbull Has Lost His Bite

Mike James spoke out this weekend once again about his impending free agency. On Sunday he vented to the Boston Globe that, ”I’m a pit bull because I’m misunderstood. A pit bull is the sweetest, most loving dog in the world and full of energy. But if crossed, they’ve got lockjaw. When I lock on to something, I’m not letting go.”

Unfortunately for Raptors fans it appears that James has locked onto the idea of getting paid. For the past month it seem as though James has made a point of showing what he can do on the court even if it doesn’t help the Raptors post some wins. In close games James would rather jack up an ill-advised three than work the ball down into the post or swing it around the arc to find an open teammate. This is acceptable for a team that’s rebuilding and is trying to get as many ping pong balls as possible but this isn’t the type of play that teams hoping to advance in the playoffs looks for (probably the reason why teams like Detroit, Miami and Houston have let him go).

Later in the Boston Globe’s article James complained that, “if somebody else was putting up the stats that I was putting up, they would throw all the money in the world at them. So, just treat me the same way as you would treat anybody else who’s a free agent. Money is not my motivator, but I also want to enjoy the fruits of my labor.”

James fails to realize that he’s posting big numbers because he’s playing on a weak team that needs him to be jack up tons of shots. GM’s around the league are aware that he’s a player that’s bounced around the League and they feel that he’s posted big numbers this season because the Raptors lack other scoring options. It’s not a case of the media and the League not showing him the love, it’s just a case of him playing for a weak team this season and people not being sold on his ability to contribute to a winning team.

While we’re talking about James getting paid, I’m all for players making as much money as they can, while they can. The average NBA player only plays a couple of years in the League so I’m not going to begrudge any player for trying to make as much money as they can.

I do begrudge James for putting himself ahead of the team.

Earlier this season I loved the guy’s heart and willingness to take the big shot at the end of games but as the season has worn on I’ve started to question his motives. A perfect example of this showed up late in Sunday’s game. With the game tied and time winding down in regulation James didn’t even look to make a pass but instead took the ball to the lane and tossed up an off-balanced shot. Most nights this would be an okay play but at the time he was shooting an atrocious 3 for 17 from the field and he should have passed the rock to one of his teammates that was doing a better job shooting the rock.

James tried to justify his shooting when he told the reporters gathered around his locker this weekend that, “it happens. I shot bad tonight. Not every night is going to be a great night but the main thing is perseverance and fighting through it. They say you miss 100 percent of the shots that you don’t take. If I have an open shot as hard as I work I am going to continue to believe in myself. No matter if the shot goes down or not if I feel in my heart it’s a good shot I’m going to continue to shoot it.”

When reporters continued to ask if he should stop shooting on off nights James stuck to his guns and told the media scrum that, “you just gotta’ keep working. You can’t let it get to you. It’s frustrating because you work on these shots every day so you believe 9 out of 10 times these shots will go in for you. If I give even half the performance that I’ve been giving this season then we would have probably won tonight. I missed the big one in the first overtime that went in and out for me. These are shots that I normally make so I’m going to live and die with what I do on the court.”

James was the Raptors best player this year but I don’t think we should re-sign him this summer because of his shoot-first mentality. He’s a “tweener” guard who doesn’t have the size to playing shooting guard and lacks the pass-first mentality to be help a team go deep in the playoffs. If I were the GM of the Raptors I’d rather go with a player like Speedy Claxton this summer because he is younger, looks to pass first and will come a lot cheaper than James will.


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