Ford drives Raptors bus

Morris Peterson (left) and T.J. Ford goof around during a photo shoot at Raptors media day Monday....

Morris Peterson (left) and T.J. Ford goof around during a photo shoot at Raptors media day Monday. (Toronto Sun/Fred Thornhill)

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

A few weeks ago, Sam Mitchell arrived at a clinic for his pre-season medical.

Like everyone else at the overcrowded clinic, he was told to take a number, take a seat and, after his name was called, go into the little room and pee in a cup.

Mitchell didn't have a problem with that. Coming from a working class background, he wasn't about to pull a prima dona act. Even though if he was the head NBA coach in an American city he surely wouldn't have had to wait.

But he finally did get a little hot under the collar when, after patiently waiting his turn, he was informed his doctor forgot to fax over his file and therefore would have to come back and start all over again.

Unimpressed, Mitchell threw up his hands and left the building, deciding to cool off by walking back to his office at the Air Canada Centre.

"As I walked, I noticed a guy sleeping on a grate," MItchell said. "And then a noticed another guy lying under a bridge and then a little, old lady on the corner begging. After walking about 50 feet past, I stopped, walked back and gave her (some cash) and she smiled and said 'God bless you', and I realized that, hey, something like that shouldn't get you upset."

Putting things in perspective was the message of Mitchell's anecdote yesterday, as the Raptors gathered for the annual pre-training camp media day at the ACC.

But he might want to do himself a favour and schedule a walk down University Ave. after every game this season.

It's going to be another long year at Raptorland. Probably not 27-55 long, but this is a team that still has a ways to go toward respectability.

Sure, general manager Bryan Colangelo did a nice job upgrading the roster, but with nine new faces, and none of them named LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, Mitchell will have his hands full getting everyone to pull in the same direction.

And that's where Chris Bosh comes in.

Mitchell expects his star forward to step up, yet again, both on the floor and in the leadership department. Without him doing that, forget a big-time improvement.

Bosh will be hard-pressed to improve on his stats from last season, when he averaged 22.5 points and 9.2 rebounds and was named to the NBA all-star team.

But the laid-back star can step up in the leadership department, and that's exactly what he plans to do.

"This is my fourth year in the league and I had the last two seasons to prepare for it, so I think I'm ready," he said.

Given his stature within the club, Bosh was asked repeatedly yesterday what he expects from the Raptors this season.

"That's a good question. I don't want to say a number too low or too high, so I'll just stick with more wins than losses," he said.

At face value, Bosh expects the Raptors to finish, at least, 42-40, (more wins than losses) which is a huge improvement and would no doubt put them in the playoffs.

Whether that side-door prediction comes back to haunt Bosh (the way Rob Babcock's honest yet ill-fated prediction last year that the team would probably lose more games than the year before), won't be known until the season is over.

But at least he is willing to take a stand, and Mitchell, for one, doesn't mind that at all. If Bosh wants to make predictions, fine.

If he wants to rant and rave in the locker room, even better, though Mitchell doesn't expect that to happen too often.

There are other ways to demonstrate leadership.

"Just because you run around yelling and foaming at the mouth all day doesn't make you a great leader," Mitchell said, adding he expects Bosh to lead by example. "You want your team to take on the personality of your best player and the thing we like about our best player, he's unselfish, he's team-orientated and he has a commitment to be here."

"Forget about what you say, it's your actions that matter."

Bosh's actions spoke volumes when he signed a contract extension through to the 2010-11 season, even though he has yet to play on a Raptors team that has made it into the playoffs.

But, deep in his heart, he believes this season he'll finally get that chance.


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