March 17, 2013
It was bound to be a rough night for Raymond Felton on his return to Portland - and not because Trail Blazers fans were going to boo him.
Carmelo Anthony, the focus on the Knicks offense, was out getting his knee drained. Tyson Chandler, Felton's quality pick-and-roll partner, was out with his own sore knee after a collision the night before.
That left Felton and J.R. Smith as the shot creators for the Knicks, and Smith thrived (33 points). But Felton had 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting with just three turnovers.
The kind of numbers a self-admitted out of shape Felton put up after the lockout in Portland last season. Which is why the Blazers fans had venom for him and booed him every time he touched the ball. That didn't bother Felton, he told the Oregonian and others after the game (see the full interview below).
"It was what I expected," Felton said. "Some boos - some boos the whole time, actually. It was what I expected. It was funny. It made me laugh. But basically we were trying to get a win tonight."
Felton became the scapegoat for Blazers fans last season. He earned some of that - both with his play and with how he treated some of the people around him and media - but what happens to scapegoats is things that he had nothing to do with get piled on them. Like the comments that Felton was a bad influence in the locker room. His teammates told CSNNW.com that was not the case.
"He was great teammate, great person," Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews said. "He wasn't cancerous in the locker room at all. Ray played through a lot of injuries too, because he liked us.
"He could have shut it down. He could have gone into his free agency year and said 'I'm not going to play unless I'm 100 percent,' but he didn't. He was professional about everything. I don't have anything negative to say about Ray."
Felton's put all that behind him and had a solid season with the Knicks. Save for the part where he struggles when all the rest of the scorers are out… but it's hard to blame him for that. Or the Knicks loss Thursday.