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  Sat, February 14, 2004


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Magloire's words hit home
By BILL HARRIS, TORONTO SUN

LOS ANGELES -- Jamaal Magloire loves his home town of Toronto and plans to return there when he retires, but yesterday he took the city to task for its treatment of young, aspiring basketball players. "I've always said Toronto does not have enough resources for this generation of kids," said Magloire, the New Orleans Hornets centre who tomorrow will play in his first NBA all-star game. "There aren't enough gyms open and there aren't enough good, solid, truthful coaches."

Magloire was not painting all coaches with the same negative brush, since he claims his own high school coach ultimately made the biggest positive impact in his life. But from Magloire's point of view, there just aren't as many of those willing facilitators and mentors as there used to be.

"A lot of coaches have their own motives," said Magloire, who along with the other all-stars attended a mass interview session in L.A. yesterday. "They need to put their own egos aside, put everything else aside.

"Growing up, I was fortunate to have Simeon Mars (Magloire's high school coach at Eastern Commerce who now is employed as his personal trainer and confidante)," he said. "He always kept the gym open for me. These days in Toronto, school lets out at 3:30 and they close the gym. I don't see why a coach can't stay from 3:30 to 4:30 to keep the gym open. Why is the coach on his way home before the kids?"

Magloire said that as a youngster with hoop dreams, sometimes it was difficult growing up in a city with a reputation for being so hockey-obsessed, whether that actually is the case in the high schools or not.

"Before I got to Eastern Commerce, I was faced with a lot of snowstorms and no place to play," Magloire said. "I used to play basketball in the snow and, despite what some people believe, the ball won't freeze. It still bounces. But I played outside in bitter cold and I think all those things made me the player I am, very aggressive, very serious."

It's that aggressiveness and seriousness that landed Magloire on the Eastern Conference all-star team.

"I always told myself I'd never go to the all-star game unless I was playing in it," Magloire said. "I'd never go just to hang around. But before I left Toronto last summer, I told my mom and dad I was going to be an all-star."

Magloire's all-star status means he is regarded as the second-best centre in the East, behind Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons. But next season it will be far harder for Magloire to repeat this accomplishment, since his Hornets are moving to the powerful Western Conference.

"It's definitely going to be difficult, but I've made it once and I believe in my heart I can make it again," Magloire said.

Magloire, who is in his fourth NBA season, is under contract with the Hornets through 2006-07, but Toronto fans still dream of seeing him in a Raptors uniform someday.

"It's hard to say," said a careful Magloire, not wanting to annoy his current employers or give Torontonians any false hope. "All I can say is, I love my city and it's where I'm going to be when my career is done. No city I've been to comes close to the city of Toronto.

"Even though I've been in the U.S. for eight or nine years, I spent 18 years in Toronto before that. I've always believed I'm a Torontonian, a Canadian, a West Indian, and that's who I'm representing here this weekend."

And Magloire has something to say to all those Toronto kids he feels he is representing.

"If you decide you want to play basketball, don't let anybody deter you," Magloire said. "I had a lot of people tell me I was uncoordinated, that I wasn't good. And making the NBA coming from Canada is a challenge in itself."

"But there is talent in Canada. There are a lot of kids who have the potential to play at the next level, not only college but on to the NBA. They just need the right resources and the right work ethic."









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
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