You all know the story. With their 7th pick, the Toronto Raptors chose Charlie Villanueva from the University of Connecticut and the league reacted with a collective, “WTF.” His list of detractors was long, led most notably by Steven A. Smith. Naturally, Charlie has been playing with a chip on his shoulder this season and recently remarked in light of his selection to the All-Star Rookie Challenge, “When they drafted me, people criticized me and I carry that with me. It’s a good accomplishment, I proved my critics wrong and playing in that game is an honour.”
Count in another critic, and Torontonian to boot, who earlier this month told Charlie V. to just shut his mouth. According to this writer, only four NBA’ers are permitted to shoot their mouths off: Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Chauncey Billups.
Although this article was written only two weeks ago, how things have changed. Charlie V. is now starting for the team, his numbers are all up, his play has gained consistency, and he just happened to lead the Rookie Team in scoring and rebounds at the All-Star Game.
I would love to see Charlie play with more passion and spend time honing his defensive skills, but as far as the season goes, he has my green light to say whatever the hell he wants. He got dogged and he came out on top. Good for you, Charlie.