One of the most frustrating parts of being a sports writer is trying to track down an athlete to get a quote or clarification on a quote. Yesterday, the Star’s Dave Feschuk tried getting in touch with Andrea Bargnani for clarification on statements that were made during the Italian feed of a Western Conference Finals game where he was serving as colour commentator. Feschuk was unsuccessful at reaching Bargnani because he was on vacation and “unreachable”.

Without being able to speak with Bargnani for clarification, Feschuk spoke with the journalist who conducted the interview and confirmed the accuracy of Bargnani’s statements. One of those statements that caused raised eyebrows around Toronto was this one:

Asked in a feature interview where he’d like to play if he could rub a magic lamp and transport himself to another NBA city, Bargnani told Italy’s Sky Sports: “I want to stay in Toronto, at least this is the politically correct answer. If (I am) to go somewhere else, I’d like a warm climate city and a team where I can actually play in my role.”

This afternoon, the Raptors released a statement from Bargnani’s press office. The statement in full as it appeared in the release from the team:

“I wish to personally clarify and correct an inaccurate portrayal of my words that recently appeared in the media. Much of what I said was taken out of context with respect to an entire conversation.

“I want to make clear my love for Toronto and that I consider the city a second home. I never said that I want to leave Toronto and I’m sorry if fans interpreted the inaccuracy that way.

“I am proud to represent Toronto and the Raptors organization. I appreciate what Bryan Colangelo and the organization has done for me during the past five years of my career. I will always continue to work to improve myself as a player in an effort to reward the organization and our fans with the best team possible.”

It’s not surprising that Barngnani would release a statement providing clarification after the statements created a buzz around the internet, but why not just make yourself available to a Toronto reporter yesterday to prevent this whole thing becoming an issue in the first place? Actually, instead of doing damage control, don’t damn yourself in the first place by saying things that you know could easily be misinterpreted and/or lost and blurred in translation.

Another quote, as reported in the article from Feschuk:

Asked on the Sky Sports broadcast about Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo’s post-season assessment of his work, Bargnani replied: “(Colangelo) had some unfortunate and not very courageous comments about me … The facts are there for everybody to see and judge.”

The truth here probably lies somewhere between what Bargnani said during that Italian television broadcast and what was expressed in the statement released today. One thing that is for certain: Bargnani and Colangelo will be talking about this miscommunication soon if they haven’t already.

For a player who has always had the support of his general manager, it probably was tough to hear Colangelo be so honest in his year end session with the media where he criticized Bargnani’s rebounding as well as his focus and desire when it comes to rebounding. At 25 years old, with five NBA seasons under his belt, it’s time for Bargnani to face the music and the valid criticism he received at the end of the season. Preferably he would learn to do so without words and with action on the floor.