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As the Raptors’ radio voice, Paul Jones comes across as a pleasant chap with a passion for basketball. The truth, however, is that he is bitter about what he experienced as a basketball player decades ago.
Jones believes he was the victim of racism, a subject raised in an intriguing new book by Toronto lawyer David Goldstein. It’s a 177-page biography on Jamaal Magloire— called, as you might imagine, Jamaal Magloire, A Biography — and it does a credible job of outlining the big guy’s ascent from the streets and schools of Toronto to the NBA, complete with details of his emergence as an all-star, accusations of him playing dirty and a horrifying, sad account of his young brother’s death.
What raised my eyebrows most, however, was a chapter on Magloire’s refusal to play for Canada’s national team. Goldstein claims Magloire’s image has suffered in this country because, unlike fellow NBA luminaries such as Steve Nash, Magloire has snubbed Team Canada. Yet, while Magloire never has publicly explained his rationale for his rejections, the book suggests he has been protesting what he considered racist behaviour in the past toward players such as Simeon Marsand the aforementioned Jones, blacks from Toronto.
Mars has been Magloire’s coach, confidante, trainer and business adviser. Like Jones, Mars made a name for himself internationally as a player. Neither, however, received invitations to try out for Canada during their heydays.
"Back in the late-’70s into the mid-’80s, when guys like Simeon and myself, guys who felt we should have had a chance didn’t get a chance, we felt (Team Canada) was a closed shop," Jones is quoted as telling Goldstein. "I don’t know if that’s reality, but from the perspective of the Toronto kids, we felt it was a closed shop."
There was an investigation into concerns regarding bias in the Canadian program in the early 1990s, Goldstein writes, "and though it yielded no hard evidence of racism, the controversy lingered. Jamaal has never claimed discrimination, but his development is strongly tied to the black players who have been disenfranchised in the past, and he may well harbor resentment on their behalf."
Goldstein calls Magloire a humanitarian and a "Canadian success story," but the book isn’t pure fluff. There’s a riveting account, in fact, of a feud between Magloire and Wally Szcerbiak, now with the Celtics. It started in college and erupted in the NBA in a hallway confrontation, after which Szcerbiak called Magloire "an idiot" and a "real low-life."
While the book leaves you hungry for more information, it’s written well and can be ordered online for $17.95 at www.iuniverse.com.