Raps discuss teamwork

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

Team.

Crack open your handy Websters and the definition of the word is fairly straightforward.

"Team: A number of persons associated together in work or activity."

The definition of the word may appear simple but assembling one and getting as many as 15 different elements to buy into the concept is anything but.

For the Toronto Raptors and a handful of other teams in the NBA this season, team is not something they just call themselves. It is what they must become if they have any hope to compete with the majority of their opponents who possess more individual talent than they do.

Here is a look at a handful of the Raptors and their views on "Team".

- - -

LINUS KLEIZA

What is your definition of team?

"That's a good question. It's a lot of things but one thing is supporting each other, sticking together and being happy for your teammates and playing together. You have to fight through stuff. You can go on and on. It's a complicated thing."

Kleiza's all-time team

"The best team I've played on is probably the national team so far, especially this past summer."

With the majority of the Lithuania mainstays on the national team not participating Lithuania shocked the basketball world winning a bronze medal at the 2010 FIBA world basketball championship.

"The national team is a different entity. You have a bunch of guys playing for one thing with no other agenda. No contracts, no nothing so that makes it different."

- - -

JAY TRIANO

What is your definition of team?

"I think it's five guys playing together."

Triano then puts his hand down on a flat surface and extends his index finger. "This is a sign of weakness. You can't do a pushup with one finger. You can't do a pushup with two fingers. But when you put them together like that (into a fist) you can do anything. It's a sign of power, a sign of strength. That's what a team is. It's everyone pulling together and this is a lot stronger than guys playing as individuals. That's what we have to be. We have to be a team."

Triano's all-time team

"It was probably when I played with the Canadian national team in 1983."

Canada upset a U.S. team in the semi-final of the World University Games in Edmonton that included Charles Barkley and Karl Malone and then went on to take gold with another upset win over Yugoslavia in the gold medal final.

"In 1982, we had NBA players and first-round draft picks and we had all these guys and we went to the world championships and we weren't very good," Triano said. "In 1983, we didn't have all those guys and we wound up winning the gold medal at the World University games and that was a team. Everyone understood their roles. Everybody bought in to their role and the synergy was unbelievable because of that. (Head coach) Jack (Donohue) went away from talent. He basically said: 'I'm not going to pick the 12 best players.' What I'm going to do is take a group of people that fit what we are looking for, but he was always like that to a degree."

Some 27 years later, Triano finds himself with a similar team, devoid of stars, but he believes he is capable of copying that team-first mentality that served Canada so well in 1983.

- - -

JOSE CALDERON

What is your definition of team?

"A team is everyone being on the same page, everyone knowing what they want. If we are going to win it's not going to matter how many points, or how many assists or how many rebounds or any number. In this culture here numbers are everything in every sport. But sometimes you don't see there is one guy who maybe doesn't get two runs for his team but he does a lot of things that help his team to be great. That's team. Helping each other and team always comes first. When you win, everyone wins no matter how many points they get."

Calderon's all-time team

2006 Spanish national team that won the FIBA world championship in Japan. Spain got by Argentina in a tough semifinal and then rolled over Greece who had upset the U.S. to make the final.

"It could be any year really," the Raptors point guard said. "We have been together for a long time on the national team. We know what we are playing for. Sometimes the national team is more difficult to make because you have all these guys coming from places where they have been the star. You have to accept your role and sometimes you won't be the guy like you are on your (professional) team."

- - -

DEMAR DEROZAN

What is your definition of team?

"Team is camaraderie, especially with this group. We are always together. This year, we all tend to do everything together. We are one now."

DeRozan's all-time team

"I would say the junior year at my high school, Compton High," which won the Moore League championship after finishing the year 26-7.

DeRozan was asked if any of the other players on that team would be known today.

"Nah. The rest of the guys on that team probably aren't even playing basketball anymore but we were all kids. We all wanted the same thing. We all wanted to play on the main stage and in front of the big crowds. No one on that team had an ego but we were all feisty and we shared a common goal."

- - -

ANDREA BARGNANI

What is your definition of team?

"A bunch of players who play together and help each other."

Bargnani's all-time team

The 2006 Italian Lega A champion Benetton Treviso.

"That team my first year (2006-07) was pretty good with (Jorge Garbajosa)," the Raptors forward said. "This year is too early to judge because we are just two games in. I would say my championship year in Italy in 2006 was probably my best team. No one expected us to win. We were having fun. It was a nice situation. We were young. We were friends off the court. Everybody was playing for something else. We were playing in Treviso but no one dreams of playing in Treviso. We were playing to reach the next level and the following year everyone left to play somewhere else."


Photos