Happy James

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

ST. CATHARINES -- Being traded to Toronto was no horror for Amityville native Mike James.

The newest Raptor arrived at the club's training camp at Brock University early yesterday, tired from travelling all day Tuesday but eager to join his new teammates for Day 2 of camp.

James, who was traded to the Raptors from the Houston Rockets for fellow point guard Rafer Alston, was surprisingly upbeat yesterday, even though he was dealt from a championship-calibre team to a rebuilding outfit that is not considered a serious threat to make the playoffs.

"It's not that bad," the fifth-year NBAer told a throng of reporters. "Toronto is a very good city.

"I told my little girl (Jadon) yesterday when I got traded: 'Are you ready to go to Toronto?' She said, 'Where's that?' And I said, 'It's in Canada.' And she said, 'Okay, let's go.' She's five and she has been travelling since (she was a baby)."

James and his wife Angela have two daughters, Jadon and two-year-old Amaya.

"Sure, I'd love to be in Houston in my convertible," the personable point guard said. "But here I'll have my Hummer, my snow boots and my snow coat. You have to be like a chameleon and adjust to whatever situation you're placed in."

James, 30, is considered a solid combination guard, who averaged a career-high 11.8 points and 3.6 assists with Milwaukee and Houston last season while shooting 44% from the field.

But one of the key reasons why Raptors general manager Rob Babcock acquired him is his tendency to play tough defence.

Toronto represents James' sixth NBA club in five seasons after starting his professional career in Austria in 1998.

James said he relishes the chance to act as a mentor for younger players, and also the chance to become a starting point guard in the NBA for the first time in his career, even though head coach Sam Mitchell insisted yesterday he yet to select his starting point.

With NBA rookie Jose Calderon and veteran Alvin Williams, who missed all of last season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee, the other two options, it seems clear James is the man.

And while he is familiar with only two or three Raptors, James obviously is very public relations savvy, knowing full well how to endear himself to Toronto fans.

"I just have to learn to play some hockey," he said, when asked about the move to Canada. "I'm still scared to death to get on skates. That's my biggest fear. I tried it once and I was terrified. But it's going to be an interesting experience for myself and my family."


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