The Toronto Raptors (17-30), who spent most of Friday night putting a beating on the Los Angeles Clippers (34-14) in an eventual 98-73 victory, were ready to run out the clock and celebrate their much-needed win with the fans at the ACC.
Rookie Jonas Valanciunas (three rebounds, two turnovers, five fouls) brought the ball to midcourt and stopped his dribble, all the while being approached by Clippers forward Caron Butler (12 points, 3 for 12 shooting, 8 rebounds), who offered up a congratulatory handshake.
As Jonas dropped his guard, Butler snatched the ball out of his hands and ran towards the basket, before being eventually caught with a clear-path foul.
The Clippers were trailing by 27 points at the time. One more basket wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.
FAIR OR FOUL?
You can look at this scenario in one of two ways.
You can shrug it off as a humorous, yet completely inconsequential play that meant absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things, or you can villainize Butler for his unsportsmanlike conduct and devious behaviour.
I’ll go with the latter.
It was a stupid, classless move on the part of Butler.
It’s one thing to offer a handshake for a well-played game and then walk away, but it’s another to offer congratulations and then swipe the ball from the opposing team like, dare I say, a punk.
Look, I understand that as long as there is time on the clock, you shouldn’t quit on the game, but with so little time remaining and the result no longer in question, why not just leave well enough alone and take the loss like a man?
Toronto was being respectful by not going for a last-second shot to reach 100 points (when the Raptors score 100, fans in attendance can redeem their ticket stubs for free pizza the following day).
Did an extra few points make Butler happy?
Was it worth it?
Of course not. The Clippers still got their backsides handed to them.
A worthless steal and extra bucket won’t change that.
Think before you act, Mr. Butler.
As for Jonas Valanciunas, perhaps he won’t be so trusting with opposing players next time.
Lesson learned, rookie.