The Suns played a close one Tuesday in Toronto, where Devin Booker clashed with the Raptors’ mascot, of all people.
Booker, who contributed 16 points in Phoenix’s 99-95 victory, went to the charity stripe with 6.5 seconds remaining, the result of an intentional foul by Fren VanVleet. After sinking the first of two free-throws, the All-Star threw his arms up in disgust, apparently triggered by “The Raptor,” who was doing his best to distract Booker from behind the hoop.
Booker signaled for a referee, who banished the mascot to another corner of the gym, well out of the 25-year-old’s sightline.
The Raptor’s presence has been felt more than usual lately with Scotiabank Arena not allowing spectators for the time being (Canada has been among the more proactive countries in combatting the coronavirus, including its new, rapidly-spreading Omicron variant). Though Booker clearly wasn’t thrilled by The Raptor’s tactics, he insists the two left their interaction on good terms.
Booker didn’t get much sympathy on social media, catching flak for whining about a relatively harmless agitator after years of putting up with much worse, including last summer in Milwaukee, where Booker and his Suns teammates were showered with boos from thousands of screaming Bucks fans at the NBA Finals.
This isn’t the first time fans have mocked Booker for being “soft.” You might remember the Kentucky alum losing his cool in an open-gym session several years ago, frustrated at being double-teamed during a casual pickup game.
If Booker is looking to shed that label, feuding with someone in a red dinosaur costume might not be the way to do it.