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Old 02-05-2008, 11:45 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Under Lucas's tutelage, in the spartan digs of a Houston-area recreation centre, Ford endured a basketball boot camp that broke his body down to build it up.

"We did old, old, old-school stuff," said Lucas, who went on to describe the rigours of crabwalks up and down stairwells and court-length wheelbarrow races in which Ford's hands did the running.

The Raptors have been impressed enough with Lucas's work that they're contemplating hiring him in a consultant's role to continue to help Ford's transition back into the lineup.

Lucas seemed enthused by the prospect. "Any way I can help, and help T.J., I'm happy to help. ... I think Chris Bosh has MVP potential. I love to be around guys that want to be stars."

Said Ford of Lucas, with whom he works out during the off-season: "Injured or not injured, he's my guy that I put trust in to get to that next level."

On the long journey to the next level, of course, Ford had to find the will to take the first step: The one over the out-of-bounds line on to the floor.

"I pushed him to try to quit, for one reason: To see how badly he wanted to play," said Lucas. "And at the end of it all, that's what his response was, `I want to play.'"

Ford wants to play, in front of the throngs or in the backyard, for a long time to come.

"This is what I love to do. It is worth it to me. If I didn't love to do it, it would be easier to shut it down," said Ford. "Besides, if I got hurt and I retired, y'all got one more report to write about me, and then I'm done. ... Can't let y'all forget about me that easily."
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