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Three tips for success from Jack Armstrong, voice of the Toronto Raptors

Basketball's Toronto Raptors are enjoying one of their finest seasons in the history of the franchise, thanks to a bunch of new players and a fresh team-orientated outlook that marks a switch from some of the self-centred squads of the past. One thing that hasn't changed is the voice of the team – the chipper, raspy, New York-accented sound from television analyst and former college coach Jack Armstrong, who talks up the value of teamwork, training and a positive approach to change. Here, his secrets to success


Chemistry 101
At the time the Raptors traded star player Rudy Gay earlier this season, they were disjointed. The team were just in pieces. With the trade, they brought in four guys from Sacramento who all get it. They’re all outstanding guys and terrific team players. And some of the other role players the Raptors brought in are the same way. They’re just professionals. They’re all about rooting for their teammates, and when they’re called upon to play themselves, they do it. It’s one of those things that every coach and general manager at any level searches for – to find that magical formula where you can get a group of individuals to all pull the rope together. It’s called chemistry, and the transformation we’ve seen with the Raptors has been remarkable.

Make a run for it
I’ve done seven marathons, including the New York four times. Being from New York City, it was an amazing experience running the New York Marathon, and running over the Verrazano Bridge to my hometown Brooklyn and then the finish line in Central Park. It still gives me thrills. I do more half-marathons now, but I’m still an avid runner. It’s a good way to clear your head. You get worn out from e-mails and cellphones, so running is my solitude. I’m by myself, I listen to music and collect my thoughts. It’s about peace of mind, and feeling a bit more fit every day you run. And I love running outdoors. I call the treadmill the “dreadmill.” It’s so much more refreshing outside.

Play the transition game
I was a basketball coach. In 1998, I had a year left on my contract when I was let go by Niagara University. I was physically and emotionally burned out. You put so much into it and you come up short. So, I needed to recharge my batteries. I was being paid by Niagara for one year, so I decided to try something different for that year – broadcasting – and have fun with it. I thought after a year I’d get back into coaching. Now here I am 16 years later, still a broadcaster. I have to pinch myself. Changing careers is hard, but when you get knocked down you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself and be angry at people, or you can pick yourself off the mat and make something better of your life. You have to work through the frustration and get on with it.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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