O'Neal's protege

MIKE GANTERSUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

If this turns out to be Jermaine O'Neal's last dance with the Raptors, he will leave a legacy of sorts.

Andrea Bargnani has learned plenty from O'Neal by just being in the same locker room and on the same court as the veteran big man.

"I think the one big thing I learned from J.O. is the intensity you have to play with," Bargnani said yesterday. "He always does everything, every move he makes he does it strong. I think that's the main thing you can learn from him."

The two first hooked up in Las Vegas this past off-season where they worked out together. Bargnani, who put on about 12 pounds of extra muscle following the 2007-08 season, was just learning how to use that extra bulk to his advantage and O'Neal was the consummate teammate showing him how.

O'Neal says the biggest change in Bargnani since those Vegas days is his confidence level.

"You have to have the tools to be doing what he has been doing the last month or so," O"Neal said of his younger teammate. "You don't just get that."

And while Bargnani is more of an observer than he is talker, O'Neal said he knows his advice never is wasted on the young Italian.

"He's not a real big talker," O'Neal said. "That's Dre. He's very observant and he does listen. If you go to him and tell him something he doesn't look away. He looks you in the face, says OK, and goes out and does the job. But he's pretty much a quiet young kid. You can tell he wants to be very special in this league, and give him some time, I think he will be."

For his part, Bargnani said taking advice from a six-time all-star and a guy who has been in the league as long as O'Neal is just common sense.

"I'm 23 years old. I can learn a lot from him."


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