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Old 07-09-2008, 10:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
Dr. J. Naismith
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Default Grange: "O'Neal's impact to remain mystery until the fall"

Another optimistic read this morning too. This time from Grange.

Originally Posted by Michael Grange
Who exactly he is and what he will bring to the franchise will likely remain a mystery until the season starts in November.

Is O'Neal an injury-plagued fading star destined to be a drag on the bottom line? Or a still potent veteran determined to extend the prime of his career and help the Raptors win their first playoff series in six years?

Trainer Joe Abunassar, who has been working with O'Neal daily in Las Vegas since May 15, bets on the latter as O'Neal attempts to rebound from a lost season and a "best thing for everyone" divorce from the Indiana Pacers.

"He's a world-class player and an unbelievable guy," said Abunassar, who runs an elite summer training program in Las Vegas for a who's who of NBA stars. "He's like Kevin Garnett that way, just a pleasure to be around."

The scouting report only gets better from there. It needs to as Raptors president Bryan Colangelo tries to steer the franchise back into the mix in the Eastern Conference after a desultory 41-41 season.
Originally Posted by Michael Grange
O'Neal has gone out of his way to prove he's ready for a fresh start in Toronto.

Following news of the deal, O'Neal called Colangelo, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell and Bosh, in each case assuring them he was determined to make the most of a fresh start and fit in well alongside Bosh. He wanted to prove his string of six consecutive all-star seasons was the norm and the past two years the exception.

More important, he's been walking the walk, Abunassar says.

O'Neal has spent nearly two months focusing primarily on basketball-specific fitness training with just a dusting of skill work thrown in. His fitness and health have continued to improved, and he's now up to 45 minutes of basketball work following nearly two hours of therapy and training.

His four- to five-hour days will get longer later this month as he begins to scrimmage against other NBA players later this month.

"Most NBA players don't start coming in until June or July," Abunassar said. "But Jermaine was here in May. He was very determined to get into elite shape, and we set up a four-month plan to get there and we're way ahead of schedule.

"I've been doing this for 10 years and he's as good a guy as I've had in terms of focusing on the plan and doing what it takes to get ready. If he keeps going at this pace, he's going to have a tremendous summer and be able to roll right into training camp. He'll be ready."
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