Jamaal Magloire happy to help toughen up Raptors

Only a season removed from his playing days, Jamaal Magloire has brought some much-needed intensity to Raptors practices this season.

Coach capped playing days with Toronto in 2011-12

Jamaal Magloire capped his 13-year NBA career with his hometown team in the 2011-12 season. (Mike Dembeck/The Canadian Press)

There is no mistaking Jamaal Magloire for the other coaches at Toronto Raptors camp.

He's the one throwing elbows.

Only a season removed from his playing days, the bruising big man has brought some much-needed intensity to Raptors practices this season.

"Huge," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said, measuring Magloire's contribution to training camp. "He beats the crap out of J.V. [Jonas Valanciunas] every day. We have some two-on-one drills where Jamaal still gets in there and cracks people. They know it's not like a little coach in there with pads on, it's a real seven-foot guy who's going to knock you on your butt if you don't come in the right way.

"Jamaal does a great job with that. He's still in shape, and he's done a heck of a job of being a vocal and physical mentor to a lot of our inside players."

The Toronto native capped his 13-year NBA career with his hometown team in the 2011-12 season. The one-time NBA all-star was waived by the Raptors during pre-season last year, but was hired on shortly after as a basketball development consultant and community ambassador.

'Big physical bodies'

Backup centre Aaron Gray said the most notable thing about this year's camp is its intensity.

"Big physical bodies," Gray said. "It's been fun to watch. We're beating each other up pretty good, not only us players but we've got Jamaal Magloire out there giving us shots every chance he gets."

The 35-year-old Magloire — who was an all-star in 2004 for the New Orleans Hornets and led the East team with 19 points and eight rebounds in that game — said he's happy to help toughen up the Raptors. Being soft is not an option.

"That's the goal, to make them ready, best prepare them for the game," Magloire said. "The game is aggressive, it's one of physical toughness, and that's what I'm trying to help them with right now."

Does Magloire have any bruises to show for the on-court beatings?

"No. But they do," he said, with a wide grin.

The six-foot-11 Magloire is still the imposing physical specimen that he was in his playing days, and said he still tries to work out every day.

"I still love the game, and still want to be a part of it, and I just like to take my body seriously," he said.

The Raptors big men appreciate his presence at camp, and have brought up his name several times this week.

"Jamaal is one of the greatest players, and he can give me a lot," said Valanciunas, the 21-year-old Lithuanian forward who's considered a big part of the franchise's future. "I'm doing a lot of work with him, especially on the low post. He's telling me what to do in this or that situation. It's really good to have him here."

Amir Johnson — already pretty tough as it is — agreed.

"Jamaal is just awesome to play with, he's an all-star, he's always battling, which I really like, he's motivating," Johnson said. "It's just a pleasure having him coach."

Defence-first approach

Magloire's contribution means even more in a camp in which defence has been the biggest focus. Casey took a defence-first approach to his first season in Toronto, but last season's focus turned more to the offensive end of the floor. Casey said, however, the pendulum swung too far in the offensive direction last year, and the team's defence suffered.

It helps, the coach added, that president and general manager Masai Ujiri "did a good job of bringing in guys who are nailbiters," Casey said. "Tyler Hansbrough, I call him Freddy Krueger. That's what made him such a great monster is every once in awhile you think you have him dead and he comes back again, that's Tyler Hansbrough. Either you stay with him with that effort or you get your butt kicked. That's one thing that's really amped up, the effort and intensity in practice."

Magloire said he's noticed a big difference to this year's camp than past years.

"Absolutely," he said. "The aura is different, we have some consummate professionals which make everyone else's job a lot easier, and I feel really good about this year's team."

He's happy to be a part of it.

"I'm very privileged and humble for the opportunity that coach has given me."


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