Character matters in basketball, too

August 04, 2001 12:00 am

The Portland Trail Blazers should have learned long ago that player character and behavior make all the difference in the world.

Its too bad that the Portland team, sometimes known wryly as the jail-Blazers, is not willing to turn the corner on the character issue, but continues to add troubled players to its roster.

The Blazers latest acquisition is Ruben Patterson from the Seattle SuperSonics. While Patterson has obvious talent on the court he was the Sonics number three scorer last season hes had trouble in his personal life.

Patterson made a modified guilty plea to third-degree rape and was sentenced in May to two weeks of home detention. He was charged with forcing the familys 24-year-old nanny to perform an indecent act. Under his plea, Patterson did not admit to guilt, but agreed a jury might convict him.

Pattersons personal problems were a factor in his leaving the Sonics. So why would the Blazers be eager to pick him up? Is it because Portlands management is more intent on building a national champion than changing the Blazers image as a refuge for rebels and renegades?

The National Basketball Association should not make it so easy for a team to pick up a player like Patterson. It should require a three-year suspension from a player convicted of a crime like rape. The player would be able to re-enter the league provided he does not err in the interim.

Character does matter, whether its in the schools, politics and government, the business world or professional athletics. The Trail Blazer organization will be much better off once it realizes that this issue is more important than games won or championship rings on fingers. Remember, the children are watching.

Library popular

La Grandes public library continues to be a popular place.

Circulation of books at the library rose by 9,000 over the past two years. A total of 131,739 books were checked out last year compared to 123,069 in 1999-2000.

Circulation rose in three of four categories including use among adults in La Grande, use among children within the city and use among adults outside the city. The only area that showed a decline was use among children outside the city.

The figures showed that 67.6 percent of library patrons lived within the city, while 32.4 percent were county residents living outside La Grande.

The publics demand for services should spur the city on in its plan to build a new library. The figures, too, make a good case for the county to pitch in where it can to make the new building a reality.