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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. 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. Soccer World Cup Jerseys. Barcelona also left injured defenders Carles Puyol, Javier Mascherano and Jordi Alba out of its squad for the trip to Glasgow. That means that Marc Bartra will probably start again in the centre of the defence alongside Gerard Pique. Cheap World Cup Jerseys 2018. Isner, ranked No. 14, won his eighth career singles title and took the title in New Zealand for the second time after his victory in 2010. The match was similar to Isners quarterfinal victory over fifth-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber which went to three sets, all tiebreaks and contained no breaks of serve. And follow right through Deadline Day for all the updates. From Pierre LeBrun While Anaheim GM Bob Murray said earlier this season he was not going to trade Jonas Hiller despite the fact hes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, some sources have told TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun that Murray might be willing to move another goalie. Cheap Soccer Jerseys. Laudrup revealed Thursday he was notified of his dismissal in "the briefest of letters which gave no reasons why such hasty and final action was deemed necessary. Cheap Soccer World Cup Jerseys 2018. Q: Team Canada announces their Olympic roster three weeks from today. Who is general manager Steve Yzerman watching? LeBrun: Over the last 48 hours, hes taken in the home-and-home between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche with Jamie Benn and Matt Duchene being the obvious targets. India A 230 and 2 for 44 (Herwadkar 23, Pandey 7*, Iyer 6*) lead Australia A 228 (Handscomb 87, Burns 78, Aaron 3-41, Jayant 3-44) by 46 runsScorecardIndia As bowlers picked up the last eight Australia A wickets for just 71 runs to bowl them out for 228 and script a stunning comeback, earning a two-run first-innings lead. Australia As seamers responded strongly, removing India As openers within 11 overs. India A had raced away to 2 for 44 for an overall lead of 46, before bad light brought a premature end to the second day in Brisbane with 18 overs still left in the day.Resuming the second day on 0 for 25, Australia A lost two early wickets in economical opening spells from Varun Aaron and Shardul Thakur. Howwever, captain Peter Handscomb and Joe Burns struck brisk fifties to put Australia A in a commanding position.ddddddddddddThe duo counter-attacked, striking 15 fours between them to take Australia A to 2 for 117 at lunch. They added a further 40 after the break before Burns was caught for 78 - his second-highest score in any format this year - triggering Australia As collapse. Handscomb was run out for a 93-ball 87 that featured 15 fours and a six.Offspinner Jayant Yadav and Aaron picked up three wickets each, while Hardik Pandya and Thakur chipped in with two and one respectively. 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