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Rockets’ Francis Back in Vancouver

November 29, 1999

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ Houston Rockets point guard Steve Francis, making his first trip to the city he snubbed, said he doesn’t owe Vancouver basketball fans anything.

``I don’t feel I owe anybody an apology,″ Francis said Monday, prior to the Rockets game against the Grizzlies. ``I just feel like I exercised the rights that Steve Francis had as an individual, as an NBA player. And I think the best thing happened to me and the Vancouver Grizzlies.″

Francis attempted to downplay the significance of the game, his first in Vancouver since the Grizzlies, who drafted him second overall in June, were forced into trading him in August.

``That’s a chapter of my life that’s over now,″ he said. ``I have so much ahead of me. I just want to continue doing what I’m doing now and that’s go forward and be a great player.″

Francis, who pouted on national TV immediately after being drafted by Vancouver, was dealt to Houston in a three-way trade also involving the Orlando Magic. Francis all but forced the trade when he refused to sign a contract with the Grizzlies.

For the past week, the Grizzlies’ marketing department had attempted to capitalize on Francis’ return. One newspaper ad urged fans to come out and see, ``Barkley, Olajuwon ... and that other guy,″ a reference to Francis.

Francis, despite committing 58 turnovers in 14 games, is off to a good start, averaging 16.6 points and 6.1 rebounds.

Antoine Carr, one of four players the Grizzlies acquired in return for Francis, didn’t agree with Francis’ decision not to play for Vancouver.

``He’s a young man that needs to take a look at himself,″ Carr said. ``You’re a rookie, you come in this league and you think you can control. I’ve been here for 16 years. You don’t have any control until you go out and do the job.

``It’s up to him. They want to make him the star in Houston. Now he’s got the boat. Drive it.″

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