What began as a neat, almost inspiring story of gratefulness has turned into an ugly power struggle in which no one looks particularly classy. Samuel Dalembert, a Haitian refugee who spent a chunk of his formative years in Montreal, rushed through the procedure to become a Canadian citizen two summers ago in order to help his adopted home nation qualify for the Olympic basketball tournament. Canada didn't make it into the field during 2007, so the pre-Olympic qualifiers in Athens this July would be the only path.
During the tournament, Dalembert had a spat with coach Leo Rautins over something or other, possibly the presence of Dalembert's girlfriend and brother in Athens, or the fact the Canadian team's dinner plans didn't fit into Dalembert's gameday diet. Then, all of a sudden, Rautins kicked Dalembert off the team as Canada floundered. No Olympics for Sam, no Olympics for Canada.
And now Dalembert says if Rautins remains head coach of the team, the Sixer won't play for the nation again. From Michael Grange of the Toronto Globe & Mail:
"I will say no," Dalembert said yesterday when asked if he would play for Rautins again. "You never know. You get one slap; you don't know when you're going to get another slap again. I'm not ready for that."
Rautins still has a job. After watching Canada a little in July and back in '07, I imagine Rautins will not have a job for long. Without knowing the full details of the spat, it's impossible to know if it's the right result. But based on what we have, Rautins seems more like a cocky Alpha coach than Dalembert seems like a diva.