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One on One with Jamaal Magloire
UMM: You’ve come a long way and surprised many people. Congratulations on being an All-Star.
JM: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
UMM: Did you expect to be playing in the NBA All-Star Game?
JM: Yes, I said it this summer before I left Toronto. I told my mom and dad I would be an All-Star this year. I had that mentality from that day forward and I knew in the back of my mind that I would succeed.
UMM: You have blazed a trail for ballers from Toronto – did you feel that you could make it from the beginning, that you could be an All-Star?
JM: I always believed from day one. I didn’t want to play the game unless I was going to become great one day. I am not great now, but I will always have the ability and the knowledge to improve.
UMM: Tell us about your early days in Toronto.
JM: I remember, before I went to Eastern High School of Commerce, I was faced with a lot of snowstorms and nowhere to play. I used to play basketball on the snow and believe me, the ball bounces on the snow. Contrary to what people think, the ball doesn’t freeze! I found myself playing outside in the bitter cold for all my life growing up. All of these things helped me become the player that I am today. I am very aggressive, I am very serious. I hate to lose and those circumstances in Toronto are those things that helped me get where I am today.
UMM: Did you ever have doubts?
JM: Nah. I never thought so. I always looked at the bigger picture. I had times when I was frustrated and disappointed, but I always thought that I would get to this point. That’s why I kept working, going into the gym late at night to practice.
UMM: Both you and Dallas Mavericks point guard Steve Nash faced long odds of making the NBA. Do you think it helped that both of you had to work so hard to achieve your goals?
JM: I think Steve worked extremely hard. I used to read stories about him dribbling a tennis ball in class to work on his hand-eye coordination. Reading stuff like that inspired me, not that I needed any inspiration. It was good to hear that a fellow Canadian had the same ideas that I did and he was working hard. Those are the kinds of things that separate Steve and I from everybody else. We are relentless and we will not give.
UMM: Why are there so few Canadians in the NBA?
JM: I think there is talent in Canada. There are lots of kids who have the potential to take it to the next level, not only college but the NBA. They just need the right resources. For example, schools let out at 3:30 pm. Why can’t coaches stick around until 4:30 pm to let the kids play around and practice? More Canadians will make it when coaches take the initiative to open up facilities for the young kids. I think that is what separated my high school coach Simeon Mars from everyone else. He took care of his players and good things happened to everyone.
UMM: Tell us about the role coach Simeon Mars had in your development.
JM: He is my mentor and my friend. He does a lot for me on the court and off the court. He is the kind of person who will tell me like it is. If I do something wrong, he will tell me. That is hard to find in the NBA world, where so many people tell you what you want to hear. I am lucky to have someone like him around me.
UMM: What do you think your friends in Toronto think about your success?
JM: I can’t speak for them, but I am sure that they are happy. They know the road I went on to get here. They know about what I went through to get here.
UMM: While you haven’t played for the national team in recent years, do you plan on playing for Canada in the future?
JM: I have always said that I will play for the national team. I played for the national team twice before. Some years back, I played for the team at tournaments in Argentina and Puerto Rico. I love my country, Canada is where I was born and raised, I want to come back home when I retire. I will always keep the opportunity of playing for Team Canada open in the back of my mind. I would like to play for the team but it has to be a situation that is right for both me and the National team. There have been a couple of things that hampered me from playing over the past few years, but I would like to play in the future.
UMM: Is it difficult to play an NBA season and then compete internationally?
JM: It is very hard playing on the national team and then going back and playing 82 games in the regular season. I think Team Canada has to do a lot more to improve their communication with the players. They have to understand the demands on this new generation of Canadian ballplayers.
UMM: Is there ever going to be a possibility of seeing you with the Toronto Raptors?
JM: All I can say is that I love my city. It is the city where I am going to live when my career is done. There is no city that I have been to that comes close to the city of Toronto.
UMM: What do you do outside of basketball?
JM: I am a big fan of music. I like hip-hop and R and B. I like Jay-Z and 50 Cent and Ludacris.
UMM: Canadian hip-hop?
JM: I like Canadian hip-hop. I am close with Kardinal Offishall and the Rascalz as well.
UMM: Who do you like more: LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony?
JM: I like LeBron personally. Carmelo is a great player, but LeBron is averaging 20 plus points, 5 plus rebounds, 5 plus assists. Very few players can do that. I am impressed by his unselfishness. I am impressed by his ability to pass the ball. He is a superstar and it seems like he wants to improve.
UMM: What advice do you have for Canadian kids with hoop dreams?
JM: My advice would be to work as hard as they can. Play ball wherever they can. I used to have to drive to Buffalo to play on an amateur team down there. I tried to play basketball whenever I could. Whenever there was any kind of league or tournament, I would try and get in. A lot of these things cost money, so I would find ways to get money in order to travel and play. My coaches in high school helped me a lot. My family helped me out a lot as well. I am grateful to them all.
UMM: Who will be the next Canadian in the League?
JM: I am not familiar with any of the Canadian talent but I have watched Denham Brown at the University of Connecticut and I like what I see.
UMM: Are there programmes in Toronto that you are thinking of getting involved in?
JM: There are some. I am planning a few leagues and camps this year. The wheels are turning and anything I can do to help the younger generation in the city of Toronto, I am going to do it.
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