CEDAR PARK, TX – After appearing in six games for the San Antonio Spurs, rookie James Anderson suffered a right foot injury setting back a fantastic start to his NBA career.
After rehabbing his foot, the Spurs sent Anderson to their D-League affiliate, the Austin Toros, to begin getting back into game shape before heading back to the Spurs.
I caught up with Anderson, who finished with 17 points in limited action last night, before the tip-off of last night’s Toros-New Mexico Thunderbirds game and we spoke about his Toros debut, how his foot is feeling and much more.
Jeff: 12 points in 12 minutes. Sounds like you haven’t lost a step since you suffered the foot injury.
James: (smiles) I’m just trying to get back into a rhythm. I felt pretty good. I’ve been anxious to play ever since they told me that I was coming here to play a couple of games and I’m ready to get back on the court and just working my way back up.
How is the foot feeling?
The foot is feeling fine. I think it’s 100%. Only thing right now is to try to get into a good rhythm, get my conditioning back so I can be ready to go when they call me.
Coming into the draft, most felt your defense was suspect. Has that been something totally unfounded?
Yeah it was. For the most part I’m a solid defender and that’s what I’m continuing to work on. Out in Oklahoma State, I thought I was a solid defender. I defended some of the top guys in the (Big 12) conference every night. I take it upon myself to continue to work and get better and I’m going to keep doing that. On on a team like the Spurs you’re going to have to play defense or you’re not going to play at all. I’m just taking it upon myself to learn all the rotations we do with the Spurs and as of now I’m just learning to try to become a better one-on-one defender.
In the few games you suited up for the Spurs, what has been the biggest thing you have learned?
You can’t rest. The minute you rest, that’s when guys take advantage of it. You got to be alert, be ready, be in the defensive stance the whole time and just be active and energized the whole game.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is known to be hard on rookies. Is that true?
It’s just a lot of teaching. I’m new to the organization, they treat all the rookies the same. They’re just trying to teach them and make them feel comfortable in not only how they play the game but how they learn the game and that’s what makes him such a great coach. He treats everybody the same. He has no favorites.
How long will you be playing with the Toros?
I really don’t know. I’m just waiting on them to call me back. As long as I’m here, I’m just focusing on what I got to do here and do what I have to do to help the Toros win. When they call me, they call me and I’ll be ready to go.
(At this point James takes time out of my interview to greet Toros fans and sign a few autographs for the children as they were huddled around us listening to the interview. Classy move on James’ part.)
How was it as a rookie when you first stepped on the court with the Spurs “Big Three” of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker for the first time?
It was just crazy! To see them in person and to see them every day. Knowing you watched them coming up. I used to watch Manu all the time because we play the same position. Just watching Timmy and to see them all in person is just a great thing to be a part of and it’s a great feeling to know these guys.
Has Manu showed you the euro-step yet?
I kind of learned it a little bit by just watching him on TV. I can’t do it as good as him but I think I can get it good enough to get by the defender.
With the Spurs having the best record in the NBA, is it shocking to you or did you see this coming?
This Spurs team is very special. This is something they haven’t really did before (sic). We got off to a good start and we can’t take it for granted. We got to keep pushing and working. Continue to get better as a team. Continue to learn what we are doing wrong on the defensive end. Just keep going forward and not take a step backwards.