In an interview with Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, former Portland Trail Blazer Raymond Felton declared that he is tired of jokes about his weight. He is no longer the constantly winded butterball that he was when he played for Portland post-lockout in the 2012 season. Honestly, Felton has a fair point. He will always have the more pear-shaped Baron Davis body type, but he’s far from a subcutaneous fat farm:
“Right now, nobody can’t criticize anything about my fitness. My weight is down even lower than it was early in the season. And I feel great. Early in the season I was hurt. I’m playing with an injury. I just feel like that is a cop-out thing that somebody just wants to talk about.”
“I had one year when I was out of shape, now everybody wants to talk about my weight every year. It’s kind of getting old. It’s kind of getting on my nerves that that’s all you want to talk about. Don’t make no excuses for me.”
“If you want to say that I’m not making shots, I’m not doing something as far as basketball, then do that. Stop trying to attack my weight all the time. I had one year that I was out of shape. That was it.”
I have a theory about the criticism Felton has endured. You see, prior to the lockout, Felton appeared to be a reasonably talented guard. The Trail Blazers didn’t just acquire him willy-nilly after all. However; his performance in Portland was nothing short of atrocious. Felton’s flab became his built in scapegoat. Former Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan acknowledged the negative impact of Felton’s basketbelly:
“I think [his weight] had a direct impact on how well he played. When you’re not conditioned to play, then you’re going to struggle, you’re going to turn the ball over. If you don’t have your legs, your shot is not going to fall. He had picked up some weight, as he told me, and we were trying to work on him moving that weight during the season.”
The problem is, as Felton shed the majority of his muffin top, his performance remained awful in New York. So there is this lingering sentiment that he is bad because he is out of shape, when really, he’s just bad because he’s Raymond Felton. Fans have been more than willing to propagate the misconception because he is so despised for the early decline of his overall competence.
I’m afraid the only way Felton will be able to quiet the crowd is to win them over, but I have a hard time seeing that happening. His game never fully recovered from his previous weight gain and his reputation has little chance to recuperate on a stage so grand as Madison Square Garden. It’s almost a shame that the Knicks were unsuccessful in trading him by the deadline. Some time apart could have done both parties good. Until such a time arrives, they’ll have to withstand Felton, and he’ll have to withstand fat jokes.