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DURING LAST SUMMERS Olympics, Team USAs basketball players stayed in an ultraluxury cruise ship moored at Rio de Janeiros Pier Maua. Wholesale Oakland Raiders Jerseys 2019 . It had extra long beds to accommodate tall people, shiny brass and glass in every room, a pool bar, a card room and white-gloved attendants at the ready. But Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan says he never did sleep well there, and exhaustion colored his Olympic experience. Its easy to imagine reasons for his restlessness -- the rigors of Olympic competition, say, or the ever-present security concerns that had police snipers patrolling the waters and a wall of bulletproof glass keeping pedestrians away.But interrupting his sleep was his alarm. Every morning, DeRozan says, he rose before 6 a.m., in the dark, when the rest of the Silver Cloud ship was entirely, eerily silent -- except for the occasional creaks and sways from the shifting waters of Guanabara Bay. Through the dark and quiet hed make his way down the narrow stairs, through the security checkpoint, and out to a Sprinter van waiting with two trainers, a cousin, a Raptors security official and an armed guard.The winter sunrise would begin during the half-hour drive through Rio de Janeiro, which DeRozan remembers with a half-smile, half-grimace. This was the obsessive hard work that can make someone one of the best athletes in the history of the world, and it is not easy. Technically, the destination was the Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, an aging athletic club behind tall concrete walls. In reality, the destination those days and most days was any old training facility anywhere -- because thats where you go to become the next Kobe Bryant.DEROZAN GREW UP about 15 miles south of Staples Center, learning to play like Bryant at Lueders Park Community Center on North Bullis Road, where his father watched over him to ensure gangs kept away.He still has a bitter memory of Game 5 in the 1997 playoffs against the Utah Jazz, when Bryant shot a series of air balls in an overtime loss. I was 7 years old, and I wanted to cry, DeRozan said. He was my passion.In his early teen years, DeRozan began studying every Bryant move. At age 16, he met Bryant at a summer run at Loyola Marymount, and Bryant quickly took to him, offering his brand of vicious advice when theyd see each other. DeRozan swallowed it whole.Kobe had an aura around him when he was on the court; he intimidated all of us. I was inside a video game, DeRozan said. Id watched him growing up. I watched Kobe do everything. His shot. His footwork. How he works in the post. Everything growing up was Kobe. I tried to emulate the tough shots he took, his pump fake. Theres nothing you can show me that Kobe has done on a court that I dont know about or have tried. I practice almost all of them.Wearing Kobe model Nikes, DeRozan played so well at Compton High that he had his choice of many top colleges, but he chose the one that was two-thirds of the way from Compton to Staples, where Bryant played. After we met, then he sort of watched me grow up, DeRozan said. And he was always offering advice. He was always serious. Thats one of the things I loved about him, his seriousness.After a year (in Kobe Nikes) at the University of Southern California, DeRozan was drafted ninth by the Raptors, where he now wears No. 10 -- an homage to Bryants Olympic team number.As a Raptor, DeRozan has seen the league change mightily in style of play, with 3-pointers becoming the games most treasured form of attack. This trend has not affected DeRozan at all, because it was never a big part of Bryants game. Instead, DeRozan has spent the better part of a decade learning to find those step-backs, side steps, drop steps and escape dribbles that form the basis of a Bryant-style midrange game. He has become proficient at working with his back to the basket. He knows where his sweet spots are on the floor, and he knows how to get there within the chaos of a game.He grew good enough at all of those skills that last year he had one of the thrills of his career: sharing the court with Bryant during the legends final All-Star Game in DeRozans new home of Toronto. They both wore Kobe 11s.THESE DAYS, DEROZAN is scoring like water -- about 30 points a game this season -- as the Raptors are emerging as the Cavs only real challenger in the East. And he does it without the superpower of the 3-pointer -- attempting one every 18 minutes of play in a league where centers like Marc Gasol (every nine minutes) and Karl Anthony Towns (10 minutes) shoot them far more often.Which is not to say DeRozan is without tricks. Bryant attempted more free throws than any guard in history -- more than 10,000 -- by earning a trip to the free throw line every 4.9 minutes he played for 20 years. DeRozan isnt far behind. For his career, he has attempted one every 5.7 minutes. This season, hes averaging a free throw attempt every 3.9 minutes, better than Bryants best season.This is the project DeRozan was working so hard on last summer.Free throws take a toll, DeRozan said. You have to be relentless because you have to keep doing it even when youre not getting calls. You have to be strong enough to finish through contact. You have to be able to get up after you got knocked down. And you have to do it night after night. Theres weight training. Theres diet. Theres treatment. A lot of things I dont want to do.So in that borrowed Rio gym, DeRozan would run, shoot and lift weights for an exhausting two or three hours. There was one day where it was raining and there was water all over the court, DeRozan said. I said, Well wait until it dries. We didnt come all this way only to go back.He gets it the old-fashioned way. He draws contact, he gets to the line. He breaks the mold when you look at his style, Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. Theres not that many guys who can do it. You cant do it with the entire team because it puts too much on the officials.The jujitsu of drawing fouls hardly gets you on SportsCenter. It doesnt lend itself to hero worship. But it does come with the admiration of Rockets star James Harden, the NBAs reigning free throw king. In fact, DeRozan and Harden spend summer study sessions in Los Angeles, where they examine every little opportunity to earn a whistle -- like bringing a very low dribble into traffic. This often forces active-handed defenders to make an exaggerated reach to swipe at the ball and creates the kind of reach a referee just might notice. They also hone the fine art of tracking defenders in transition and finding inadvertent-looking contact with them while shooting, which DeRozan calls body hunting.Last March, when Hardens team visited Toronto, he and DeRozan dined together. The night before, DeRozan had gotten to the line 25 times in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers -- making his first 24 and missing the last on purpose to kill the clock and secure the win. In baseball, pitchers have perfect games. In golf, theres the hole-in-one. For what Harden and DeRozan do, this was the top of the mountain, and Harden wanted to compare notes, maestro to maestro.BACK ON THE cruise ship after rehearsing how to beast his way to hard-won and-1s, DeRozan would join his Team USA teammates for a daily 11 a.m. meeting, where hed sit with heroes of the 3-point revolution, players like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving and Draymond Green.Advanced statistics say a lot of things about basketball, but nothing more loudly than that 3s make your offense better -- they draw defenders out of the paint, making layups easier; they reduce wear and tear; and, not to be overlooked, they come with one more point. The best offenses shoot near-record numbers of them. The graph of 3s attempted across the league over the past decade is shaped like a hockey stick, going up and up, with no end in sight.DeRozan sees it as a fad. After the meeting, when the team went to practice, DeRozan would rest on the sidelines when his teammates did their individual work. Id just watch as guys got their shots in, he said. I didnt care if someone thought I wasnt doing anything.Lonely hard work and being misunderstood -- or even disliked? Thats all part of being like Kobe.But its also not something DeRozan has perfected entirely. He can get a bit tense when he sees how the long-range shooters get praise and respect from media. Midrange shots in traffic go hard against the grain of efficiency. And even though free throws are an important component in efficient offense, DeRozan doesnt think the stars who are the best at getting them are regarded appropriately.Hes something of a victim of the changes in how players are assessed. By points per game, hes a hero. By any stat that measures his teams performance when hes on the court, he falls far down the leaderboard. In last years playoffs, for all of his big buckets, the Raptors were better as a team when DeRozan was out of the game. This season, ESPNs real plus-minus ranks him as the leagues 61st best player, much of which is attributable to his being one of the lowest-rated defenders in the league. On offense, hes ranked fourth among shooting guards, after three players who shoot 3s like crazy.Theres still time in my career to move out to the 3-point line. Right now thats not something I need to do, DeRozan said as he leaned back in a chair at the Denver Four Seasons hotel and saw teammate Kyle Lowry headed for the front door wearing workout gear.It was almost 8 p.m. The Raptors had just flown in to start a five-game road trip. Denver was having its first snowstorm of the year, but a waiting SUV was ready to take Lowry to a nearby gym to get practice shooting in. There would be lots of 3-pointers.When I get to be Kyles age I can shoot 3s, DeRozan joked. When Im 33, maybe I can be the next Kyle Korver.After his second All-Star season and strong play in the deepest playoff push in Raptors history -- he averaged 23 points a game and shot 50 percent from the field -- DeRozan was stunned by where he was rated by major media outlets. ESPNs #NBArank had DeRozan at 30th. The Washington Post ranked him 45th. Sports Illustrated had him at 46th.I think its B.S. DeRozan said. Im willing to line up against anyone in the league, and it will be toe-to-toe until the end. I believe Ive proved that. You put in so much work, its almost sickening. I watch everything, I read everything. Ive always been a guy who wants to prove somebody wrong. I wouldnt rub it in anyones face, but thats my gratification. Ive seen so many guys work ethic, and I know it doesnt come close to what Im putting myself through. When you see those rankings, it makes you want to go out and prove it.And in his mind, the proving ground lies on the other side of Lake Erie. Thats all Im thinking about: the Cavs, the Cavs, the Cavs, DeRozan said. Weve already played two games against them, and both came down to the end. Weve got to figure that out; weve got to get that execution. Were going to keep working. Im going to keep working. Im not a fluke player; were not an accident team.Last summer DeRozan signed a five-year, $137 million deal with the Raptors on the first day of free agency. He had other options: the Lakers, of course. The New York Knicks were interested and so were the Philadelphia 76ers, whose general manager Bryan Colangelo had drafted him in Toronto. He passed on other options for a few reasons, the largest contract in Raptors history being a big one. The possible blowback of not winning right away in L.A. with a young team being another. But when he talks about establishing a legacy in Toronto, hes not trying to give a nice quote. Hes following a guiding principle: Playing a whole career in one place is pure Bryant. Cheap Oakland Raiders Jerseys 2018 . The quest begins with what is supposed to be an easy one, although Germany has traditionally been a stubborn opponent to Canadian teams at international tournaments. Oakland Raiders Arden Key Jersey . Dallas hasnt ruled out the star quarterback for Sunday nights game against Philadelphia, but all signs point to Romos back injury pushing Kyle Orton into the starting role after two years of limited play as the backup. Surely Ortons name isnt the first that comes to mind for fans wanting a change after years of damaging interceptions, fumbles or, most infamously, the field goal flub when Romo dropped the snap on a kick that could have won his first playoff game in 2006.http://www.cheapraidersjerseys.us/ . -- Teemu Selanne scored the first goal of his 22nd NHL season, and the Anaheim Ducks extended the best start in franchise history with their fifth straight victory, 3-2 over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. Greetings not from Section 416, but from Car K on the 15:30 Edinburgh-to-London train. Your faithful correspondent is on a two-week holiday away from Chicago -- and its killing him. Things have gone terribly wrong, and I dont just mean the recent pair of tough losses to the Cardinals that ended the Cubs 11-game winning streak.Being away from my sweetheart, friends, regular bartenders and Chicago is always rough. But missing any of this seasons action has turned out to be tougher than Id anticipated, even if being abroad during the baseball season isnt the utter disconnection it once was.When I first studied in Ireland in the early 1980s, Id get the baseball scores a day late, via the International Herald-Tribune; and no box scores either, just line scores. As recently as 2003, I had to learn of Kerry Woods NLDS victory over the Braves via a phone message from a student. The landlady in my Oxford B&B told me Caroline rang to tell you that Chicago beat Sri Lanka. A cricket test match, I thought -- or perhaps we beat Atlanta.Nowadays, the minute I wake up six hours ahead of Chicago time, the ever-giving gift of the geek geniuses (aka the internet) lets me check the prior days score on my phone before getting out of bed. Then I read the local beat writers and columnists, the play-by-play game account, the blogs, ESPN.com and the Twitter chatter.If theres any time left in my day, I go to a museum or a play, visit my friends or do some other tourist thing that brought me across the Atlantic. Occasionally check the Twitter chatter again. Then maybe just one more time after that.And theres the rub.I cannot get chatter abroad; live conversation about the Cubs virtually doesnt exist here.Theres no one to dissect the game details with, no one to help me comprehend the bullpen injury flow chart, or the crazy roster squeezes, much less the Tommy La Stella drama (the Cubs version of the South Siders Adam-and-Drake LaRoche soap opera?).Dublin, Cork, Edinburgh and London are of course full of Americans during tourist season, and some folks who live on this side of the water do follow baseball, but that doesnt mean youll automatically connect with someone to talk Cubs baseball with the way you can in the Windy City.Brian and Peggy, whom I met at my Dublin hotel bar on Custom House Quay, are from Boston and keen to talk Red Sox, but admitted to knowing little of the Jorge Soler saga. Milwaukees Kaylie and Aaron, over a pint in a pub on the Western Road in Cork, for some inscrutable reason were more interested in talking about Packers vs. Bears than Cubs vs. Brewers.. Oakland Raiders Nick Nelson Jersey. My oldest friend in Dublin did her best, but being asked. So, how are the Cubs doing this season? by a White Sox fan who emigrated back to Ireland in the 1970s wasnt gonna cut it. I despaired of finding anyone to talk Cubs with.And then it got worse.I suffered an unprecedented loss, one that obliterated my chances of randomly meeting a Cubs fan to talk about how crucial Dexter Fowler is.I lost my Cubs cap.Every year, on Opening Day, I buy a new cap for that season. This year, it was a replica 1918 cap. In a minor rainy squall, a gust of wind tore it off my noggin and deposited it in a 20-feet-below-grade front yard on Lombard Street in Dublin.Id have needed a fishing rod and reel to retrieve it, and a Twitter plea for them came up dry.So, there was no way that a fellow Cubs fan in the Easter Rising exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland might spot my cap and say. To heck with 1916, this is the year. No one in St. Patricks Cathedral would tip her own cap and say, Joe Maddon is my personal savior. I was not visibly a Cubs fan, and so it was unlikely to randomly meet any other Cubs fans who might have some insight into whether the Aroldis Chapman deal was a moral failing.I sought a new cap immediately, to no avail. The souvenir shops had plenty of Irish Drinking Team caps, complete with bottle openers built into their bills, but the only actual MLB baseball gear available on OConnell or Patrick streets was, of course, New York Yankees caps. And its not safe to assume someone in a Yankees cap will want to talk about Starlin Castro and Adam Warren.The Yankees are the Manchester United of baseball. Americans who know nothing about Premiere League football sport a Man U kit, and Europeans who dont know a double play from Abner Doubleday recognize the Yankees brand and logo. Ive seen a couple dozen people wearing Yankees caps since my Cubs chapeau pulled a La Stella, and not one was worn by someone Id feel right approaching to chat about whether Jake Arrieta will get his control back.Well see if I have any better luck in London, where perhaps the metropolis will include a few North Siders also missing the homegrown, albeit unfamiliar, feel of a 10-plus-game NL Central Division lead.With any luck, the Cubs will still be rolling along when I return, and I will surely have some fellow fans to talk about the game with in person. I kind of pity the first person I see wearing a Cubs hat on the Blue Line in from OHare. Cheap NFL Hoodies Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Free ShippingJerseys NFL China Wholesale NFL Autographed Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping ' ' '
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