Raptors one tight group

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

Raptors guard Morris Peterson wandered out of the practice gym yesterday and casually asked Mike James what he was talking to the media bout.

"I want in my (new) contract that I want to be able ride my bike," James replied.

"What? Your tricycle?" Mo Pete countered.

James laughed.

There's a reason why the New York Knicks have gone into the toilet and the Raptors are a team on the rise. Team unity and chemistry.

The Knicks, who play host to the Raptors tonight, are the running joke in the NBA. They have the second worst record in the league (19-46), the largest payroll ($124 million US) and a star player (Stephon Marbury) who is feuding with the team's legendary head coach (Larry Brown).

The Raptors, on the other hand, don't have much talent or depth, but the key theme has been keeping it together through a horrendous start (1-15) and various slumps and trades.

"There's no quarrels in the newspapers, no fights. Those things can be a heavy burden on a team," said James, comparing the Raptors with the Knicks. "We like each other on this team. Even when we had that (1-15) streak, we still were enjoying one another. We still came to practice and worked hard. We don't mind being around each other, that may be the difference between us and them.

"That's very rare (for a team), especially when money plays such a big role in this league and it's all about image and all these other things. When image plays a major role, you start allowing your image to take control of your team," James continued. "And guys hide behind money and hide behind image.

AROUND THE RIM

Still no sign of centre Antonio Davis, who has been away from the team for almost a week, after having his sore back checked out in Indianapolis last week ... A camera crew showed up after practice on Sunday to film Chris Bosh in an episode of the children's show, This Is Emily Yeung ... General manager Bryan Colangelo will attend his first road game with his new team tonight in New York.


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