Things got testy, and then physical and violent between former Portland Trail Blazers teammates Joel Freeland and Luke Babbit. CSNNWhas the blow-by-blow: “Joel is probably the toughest European player that I’ve played against,’ LaMarcus Aldridge said. ‘I never questioned his toughness at all. He’s just getting a chance to show it now.’ [...] On March 20 in Chicago last season, Portland was practicing the day before it squared off against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center and things got a little heated. According to some onlookers, Babbitt was repeatedly fighting through screens using his elbows. After being struck a couple of times already, Freeland warned Babbitt in a not-so-friendly way that that would be his last elbow. A play later, Babbitt did it again, resulting in a physical altercation. According to an eyewitness, a fired-up Freeland literally picked up Babbitt and threw him to the ground. The two eventually ended up on the floor exchanging blows before teammates intervened and separated them. It was made clear on that day: Freeland was not to be disrespected. ‘Yeah, you don’t want to mess with Joel,’ Aldridge said while shaking his head left to right. The tough, rugged Joel Freeland we are witnessing today might have derived from that very practice session squabble in Chicago. Freeland says he wouldn’t go that far, but he acknowledged it could have been a turning point from a mindset point of view. ‘You can’t back down to anyone in this league,’ Freeland said. ‘That’s the way I’ve been always brought up and that’s the way I’ve always lived. It wasn’t so much anything to do with that incident, but you stand up for yourself. I’ve always played the same way but maybe I wasn’t being as a aggressive as I should have. I’ve always played tough. I’ve never shied away from contact. I wouldn’t put it down to that one incident but I’m just getting comfortable in my place.’”