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DENVER - Its been four years since the Raptors had a representative in the All-Star Game. DeMar DeRozan, a 20-year-old rookie at the time, remembers it well. "I was here when Chris Bosh was the last guy to go," said DeRozan, now 24 in his fifth NBA season, less than two hours after receiving the news. A first-time All-Star, DeRozan got the nod Thursday evening when the NBA named the Raptors guard to the Eastern Conference squad as a reserve. "I work extremely hard every off-season to try and be the best player that I can be," he said proudly. "Just to be a part of All-Star Weekend is something you dream of. I remember being a kid watching All-Star Weekend and wishing to be a part of it. To see your dreams come true definitely means a lot." DeRozan, the fourth ever Raptor selected to the midseason showcase, which will take place in New Orleans on Feb. 16, was hardly surprised to find out his selection had been made official. He had expected it. The texts from family and friends started to come in as the Raptors plane landed in Denver, shortly after the announcement had been made live on TNT. Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden called to congratulate him, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, also an Eastern reserve, sent a text. The first call he made was to his fiancé and his infant daughter back in Toronto. "That was cool," he said of what had to be a special moment. Its a moment, an achievement that didnt come overnight. Hes put in the work and his growth as a player, a leader and as a man reflects that. "Hes worked at it [and] he deserves it," said Dwane Casey, who has coached DeRozan in three of his five seasons. "Every year Ive been here he has improved. He has brought something new back after every summer. Im so happy and proud of him as a young man watching him grow." DeRozan, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, is 11th in the league in scoring, fourth in the East, and averaging career highs in points (21.8), rebounds (4.7) and assists (3.6). The Raptors iron man has missed the clubs previous two games with an ankle injury, but hes still only missed 10 contests in his career, with two full seasons under his belt. Since the trade of Rudy Gay, DeRozan has blossomed in his new role. DeRozan has recorded five or more assists in 12 of the 43 contests hes appeared in this season. He accomplished that feat 12 times all of last year and five times total in his first three seasons combined. He has already grabbed five or more rebounds 23 times this season, something he did in 19 games during the 2012-13 campaign. "Im so happy for him, man," said snubbed teammate Kyle Lowry. "It just shows the hard work that hes put in. Its great for our team, its great for the organization, its great for the city, its great for the country." Of course, the news wasnt entirely positive. Lowry, in the middle of a career season, was left off the All-Star roster. The 27-year-old point guard - widely considered to be the most notable name missing from the East team - stood in the lobby of the Raptors Denver hotel, looking ahead to his mid-Febrary vacation. He too was not surprised by the result of the voting and if he was disappointed by it, he didnt show it. "Im alright," said Lowry, averaging career-highs in points (16.8), assists (7.6) and three-point shooting (41 per cent) this season. "Ill be on a beach somewhere hanging out. Ill watch the All-Star game and cheer for (DeRozan)." Lowry is coming off of back-to-back 30-plus point games for the first time in his eight-year career, however both performances came after the coaches submitted their ballots for All-Star reserves on Sunday. Casey has spent the better part of the last month campaigning for both of his guards, hoping to get both voted in, but expecting to only get the one. Why was Lowry left out? Politics, most likely. He and DeRozan may have split votes from coaches who were only willing to vote for one Raptor. Coaches trying to get their own guy in - unable to vote for their own players, by rule - may have thrown their votes to others, less likely to make it. Then theres Lowrys reputation for being, well, prickly on occasion. However, the numbers speak for themselves, or at least they should have. Lowry leads the East in assists in January, averaging 8.3. Hes also hit more threes this month (49) than any player in the league, shooting them at a 46 per cent clip. Hes among the league-best in assist-to-turnover ratio and he has the second highest PER (player efficiency rating) of any guard in the conference. "I am disappointed for Kyle because he is playing like an All-Star," Casey said. "He is one of the best point guards in the league right now and hopefully this doesnt deter him from his continuing his journey to being the best in the league and proving people wrong." Instead, the Nets Joe Johnson made the cut. Johnson is averaging 15.7 points, his lowest mark since 2002-03, his second season in the league. Hes only the second All-Star voted in by the coaches with a below-average PER since 2003. "Im going to keep grinding no matter what, All-Star or not," Lowry said. "Im always going to work hard and continue to be the best player I can be to help my team win." "Honestly I didnt even worry about it," he continued. "We didnt get two, doesnt matter, we got one and thats a big statement for our team. [DeRozans] going to represent our team and hes going to represent us well." DeRozan joins Johnson, Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, Wall, the Indiana Pacers Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks Paul Millsap on the East squad, along with starters LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Heat, Indianas Paul George, Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving. wholesale jerseys. -- Dane Fox scored his 61st and 62nd goals of the season and Brendan Gaunce had a goal and three assists as the Erie Otters downed the Kitchener Rangers 7-3 on Saturday in Ontario Hockey League action. wholesale nfl jerseys. -- The Atlanta Hawks were in the midst of a furious fourth-quarter rally and Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger had to try to stop it. http://www.wholesalejerseychinastore.com/. The Toronto Argonauts running back hurt his left ankle during the teams practice Friday afternoon at Rogers Centre. cheap nfl jerseys. That pasta and chicken feast fueled the rookie MacKinnon to his first two-goal game and the Colorado Avalanche held off the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Saturday for their third straight win. cheap jerseys from china. PETERSBURG, Fla.The Blue Jays have had some great managers over their history. Cito Gaston led them to back-to-back World Series titles and one day will be in the Hall of Fame. Bobby Cox guided the Jays to their first American League East title and post-season appearance in 1985 and will be enshrined in Cooperstown this summer. Yet, if you ask Toronto media types of a certain vintage which manager was the most intriguing, challenging, but engaging to deal with, the answer is invariably Jim Fregosi. He was irascible, cantankerous, funny and, at times, profane. He was a walking encyclopedia of baseball stories, warm and generous and had a kind of charisma that made him the centre of attention whenever he walked into a room. Jim Fregosi, a baseball lifer, passed away in the wee, small hours of Friday morning in a Miami hospital after being removed from life support only hours earlier. He had suffered multiple strokes while on a baseball alumni fan cruise last weekend in the Bahamas. He was 71 years old. Fregosi came to the Blue Jays in the spring of 1999 under difficult circumstances. He was brought to restore credibility to an organization that had just fired skipper Tim Johnson during spring training after just one season on the job. Johnson, though keeping the team in contention for a playoff spot until the final couple of weeks in 1998, effectively "lost" the team after his stories of war heroism in Vietnam proved to be total fabrication. Fregosi was a no-nonsense skipper, who was also a players manager as he showed during his years with the Philadelphia Phillies that peaked with the World Series loss to the Blue Jays in 1993. What I loved about him was his ability to take and give shots in a good natured way without letting things develop into an adversarial situation. That spring of 1998, I left my tape recorder running after a brief interview, as I knew he would continue answering questions from the beat writers from the Toronto papers. It was old school to talk with the writers separately. Fregosi looked at me and asked what I was still doing with the microphone in his face. I jokingly said "Because you always give the best stuff to the writers after the recorders are shut off." He shot me a glance that made me think I had crossed a line, but after a short pause, he just laughed and kept on talking. We seemed to get along well partly because I enjoyed hearing stories from his playing days when he was a star with the expansion California Angels or just getting his take on certain current-day players or changes hed like to see in the game. One time after leaving what was then Skydome, I was making the trek back to a parking lot about a mile or so away. Suddenly, a car started honking at me. It was Fregosi, wanting to know if I wanted a ride. Though I was about halfway to where I was going and it wasnt raining or anything, I jumped right into his car, just for an opportunity to share one of those "real" moments. Another time in Spring Traaining, on a drive to Fort Myers, I was driving along the Interstate at a pretty good clip when another car passed me.dddddddddddd It was Fregosi laughing and waving, having opted to take his own car on the trip that day rather than the team bus. He was just fun to be around. He told me once about his huge collection of baseball memorabillia. He told me he didnt even know how much he had, just that he often donated items to different charities to auction off. There was one point during that 1999 season that I thought I had upset Fregosi. His attitude towards me seemed to change. He wasnt laughing and joking with me as much and his answers became curt and serious. After a couple of weeks of this, I mustered up my courage and went to his office at the ballpark to find out what was wrong. After I stated my case, he got up out of his chair, put his arm around my shoulder, laughed and said "Nothing is wrong, I just like messing with people." Well, he put it in much more graphic language than that. I laughed, too, and felt an immense sense of relief. Though the Blue Jays only finished third in each of Fregosis seasons and their combined record was just 167-157, they were at least in the conversation about making the playoffs, especially in 1999. After the 2000 season, with Rogers coming in as owners, Jim Fregosi was fired. In later years, it kind of reminded me of the way MLSE got rid of Brian Burke. It was Jim Fregosis last job as a Big League skipper. Fregosi really had a remarkable career. He was a six-time All-Star third baseman with the Angels after being selected from the Boston in the expansion draft in 1960. He won a Gold Glove and, though ultimately becoming a journeyman bench player, he stuck it out in the Majors for 18 seasons. Fans voted him the greatest Angel of all-time in a poll conducted in conjunction with MLBs 100th anniversary. One day after the Pittsburgh Pirates released him in 1978, he was hired to manage the Angels by their owner, the legendary "Singing Cowboy," Gene Autry. With Fregosi at the helm, the Angels won their first division title in 1979. He also managed the Chicago White Sox, the Phllies and the Blue Jays. He had worked in the front office of the San Francisco Giants and for the past 13 years as an advisor to the general manager with the Atlanta Braves. It was a shame that, as a player, he was often defined by the trade that sent him from the Angels to the New York Mets on December 10, 1971. The Mets gave up four players in that swap. Three didnt really pan out, but the other, Nolan Ryan, turned into one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. But Fregosi could even joke about that in his self-deprecating way, saying he was the key player in the deal and actually, at the time, the Mets thought he was. Jim Fregosi was not a Hall of Fame player, but when you look at his entire body of work, as a player, a manager and a front office type, I believe one day he deserves to find a place in Cooperstown. ' ' '

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