James to duke it out

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Standing 6-foot-2, weighing 190 pounds and hailing from Amityville, the guard who can shoot from the lip and the hip, Fast Talking Mike James.

James, who is fleet on his feet and even quicker with a quote, indicated yesterday after Raptors practice he plans to take up boxing training in the off-season to strengthen his legs, improve his stamina and hand-eye co-ordination and strengthen his back.

"Overall just to give me the stability where even the last two, three minutes (of a game) I don't get tired," he said.

James plans to begin by working and learning the technique of boxing before entering the ring and facing an opponent.

"I'm going to get into the ring with somebody big and think they're really nice with their hands, just to let 'em know," he said.

Asked if he'd wear any headgear, James said: "Of course, I'm not crazy. I'm no professional boxer. I know I can get my bell rung easily. I'm an amateur, but this is something I want to do in training, so of course I'm going to protect myself because I'm first a basketball player and I'm never going to forget that.

"This is my first love, but I have to do other things to help me get better and develop and make me an even better player next year."

FIGHTS

James said he never has boxed before, but proudly admitted: "I had a lot of fights growing up and I won a lot -- big kids, little kids, middle-size kids, it didn't matter. Why do you think I act the way I act?

"I'm the type of person (who) my wife tells me I should be quiet and just carry a big stick. I tell her, 'I can't, baby. I bark loud and I bite even harder.' "

The 30-year-old, who resides in Houston in the off-season, isn't sure where he'll be playing next season. His contract expires after this season and the fifth-year player, who already has played for six teams, is looking at the possibility of his most lucrative contract.

He currently is making $3.4 million US a season, but is looking to maximize his best season as a pro, hence the desire to do everything possible to give his employer -- be it the Raps if they re-sign him or some other team if there's a better offer in free agency -- everything he has. And he hopes the boxing will give that extra edge.

"I'm going to be a terror in the NBA for at least the next five years," he said.

"Every year I've gotten better. I plan on again being the hardest worker this summer in the NBA of any individual player."


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