Warriors

Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson looks to inspire young Mexican NBA fans

Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson looks to inspire young Mexican NBA fans

Over the NBA All-Star break, Juan Toscano-Anderson held a basketball clinic at an elementary school in Monterrey, Mexico. The kids knew his story -- he played in Monterrey. Then he earned a chance in the G League. Now, he’s one of the only Mexican-American athletes to ever reach the NBA. 

The kids mobbed Toscano-Anderson, peppering him with questions. “Do you know Steph Curry?” they exclaimed. Juan said yes, he plays alongside the star he grew up watching in his hometown of Oakland. 

As he looked at their faces, Juan felt a determination to be someone they could look up to. 

“They have a piece of them in the NBA now, someone they can root for,” Toscano-Anderson told NBC Sports Bay Area during the Warriors' recent road trip. “I’m very appreciative of the people, the league and everyone who has helped me. They helped me revive my career in a sense. I didn’t know what I was going to do after college. I went down there and made a new name for myself.”

Juan didn’t anticipate playing basketball in Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional -- one season with Soles de Mexicali, two seasons with Fuerza Regia de Monterrey -- would be a formative part of his career. He didn’t expect basketball to come into his life at all. He said his household was “soccer, soccer, soccer.”

Juan’s third-grade teacher, Wilhelmina Attles -- wife of Warriors legend Al Attles -- set him up at a basketball camp. He loved it. Juan went home and declared to his family he was giving up soccer. He honed his skills at Oakland rec centers and the Boys & Girls Club. 

Juan played high school basketball at Castro Valley and then collegiately for four seasons at Marquette. He remembers injuries and frustration.

“No offers, no agents, no workouts," he said. "Can you imagine all your life you’ve been working for this point and then it ends?” 

Friends suggested that he play in Europe, but Juan didn’t feel like he could get a deal worth the move. 

“I didn’t have anything close to a good college career,” he said. “Mexico ... the league there? People didn’t even know about it. It doesn’t get any respect around the world.”

Juan took a chance. His seasons in Liga Nacional fulfilled him deeply. He discovered a fan base open to basketball, ready to take cues from the NBA’s culture of exciting play, personalities, shoes and music. On a scale of 1 to 10, Juan believes Mexico’s interest in the game is a 4 but growing. 

“I want to be a cornerstone for what it will become,” he said.

Juan’s time in Mexico taught him that if he wants to play a role in growing the sport, he needs to immerse himself in the language. 

“I grew up in a Latino household,” he explained. “All Mexicans in my house. We ate Mexican food, it was all Mexican culture, holidays. My mom speaks English 90 percent of the time. Sometimes she’ll yell at us in Spanish. But we grew up in my grandpa’s house. My grandpa speaks all Spanish. All my life I’ve understood Spanish, but I didn’t start speaking it until I moved to Mexico.” 

Juan said he constantly practiced the language so he could connect with people and be in control of his own story. “No middlemen,” he said, and estimates he’s about 85 to 90 percent fluent. 

“People appreciate the effort, and they’re accepting me as their own," Juan says. "It’s gratifying to see people embrace me.”

[RELATED: Toscano-Anderson remembers one thing from Warriors camp as a kid]

Any conversation with Juan contains moments when he states, “I shouldn’t be here.” He gets goosebumps when thinking about what he wants to do with his NBA opportunity. His first priority is to continue to maintain his place with the Warriors. Then, as he daydreams about the future, Juan said his mind goes to Mexico.

“When I’m done here, I’ll always have a home there,” Juan said.

He considers the options with a sense of responsibility. 

“As a player, as a coach ... one day I want to buy a franchise down there. I want to give them 10 times what they’ve given me."

Sports week in coronavirus: Drew Brees, Stephon Marbury doing their part

Sports week in coronavirus: Drew Brees, Stephon Marbury doing their part

Editor's note: Each Monday during the coronavirus pandemic, Monte Poole will examine the virus within the scope of the sports world.

For most of his NBA career, two-time All-Star Stephon Marbury wore a tag so repellent that it hastened his departure from the league.

Selfish.

At age 31, after 13 seasons, the dynamic point guard landed in China and became a national legend.

And now, 11 years after his last NBA game, Marbury is making an impressive effort to shed that label once and for all. The man known for his aggressive offense is pledging to use his energy to attack the coronavirus.

Marbury tells the New York Post that he will utilize his Chinese connections to supply 10 million N95 masks for American hospital workers and other first responders in greater New York, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus. While the typical cost for such masks is between $7 and $8, Marbury is promising a deal to obtain them for the manufacturer’s cost of $2.75.

“This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York,” Marbury told the Post. “I have family there in Coney Island, a lot of family . . . who are affected by this, so I know how important it is for people to have masks during this time.”

Marbury, 43, who spent eight seasons playing in China and maintains a home in Beijing, is head coach of the local Royal Fighters of the Chinese Basketball Association. Evidence of his clout isn’t hard to find. Marbury has been featured on postage stamps, has a statue and the Marbury Museum is located in Beijing.

There is considerable red tape for Marbury to wipe away – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have yet to engage – before completing his goal, but kudos to him extending a hand in a time of great need.

Sports Humanitarian of the Week: Drew Brees

By the second weekend of March, most of the country recognized the coronavirus threat and acknowledged the benefit of social distancing. But the French Quarter of New Orleans party on, its streets crowded with overserved revelers raging through swamps of regurgitated alcohol.

Local police resorted to using audio warnings to clear the streets of those reluctant to leave.

Now comes the bill. Louisiana has more than 35,000 cases, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. More than 150 have died, nearly half from greater New Orleans, where hospitals are horribly overcrowded and understaffed.

Enter Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the biggest sports star in the state. He and his wife, Brittany, announced via Twitter a pledge to donate $5 million toward Louisiana relief efforts.

After considering retirement, the 42-year-old recently agreed to two-year contract worth $50 million, with a reported $27 million guaranteed. Whether it’s 18 percent of his guaranteed money or 10 percent of his maximum total, $5 million represents the largest monetary donation by a single athlete.

Appreciate ya, Drew.

Medically cleared

A number of sports figures have either cleared the danger zone or tested negative. Among them:

MLB: Oakland A’s legend Dave Stewart, who battled an unknown illness but tested negative coronavirus and has recovered.

NBA: Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Pistons forward Christian Wood, and Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert all tested positive but have been cleared. NBA analyst Doris Burke announced she tested positive but is now free of the symptoms that prompted her to seek medical care.

NFL: Saints coach Sean Payton tested positive but has been cleared.

NHL: An unidentified Avalanche player who tested positive has been cleared.

[RELATED: Kerr praises Steph for coronavirus Q&A with Dr. Fauci]

Tested positive and in isolation

NBA: Former Nets center Jason Collins, twin brother of Warriors assistant coach Jarron Collins, announced he tested positive. The Knicks announced that owner James Dolan tested positive, with minimal symptoms, and is in self-isolation. Nets star – and ex-Warrior – Kevin Durant announced he tested positive but must be feeling better; he exchanged playful jabs with Rihanna on an Instagram Live session.

One unidentified member of the Nuggets franchise, two unidentified members of the Lakers franchise, three unidentified members of the 76ers organization and three unidentified members of the Nets – KD would be the fourth – tested positive and entered self-isolation.

NHL: One unidentified member of the Avalanche tested positive and is in self-isolation, along with unidentified members of the organization that had contact with him. Two unidentified members of the Senators tested positive and are in self-isolation.

Why Steve Kerr, 2017 Warriors knew they were going to win championship

Why Steve Kerr, 2017 Warriors knew they were going to win championship

The 2016-17 Golden State Warriors arguably are the greatest team in NBA history.

They nearly swept through the entire postseason, before dropping Game 4 of the NBA Finals on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Winning the championship, of course, was not a surprise to anybody -- especially the Warriors themselves.

“I think the first championship just kind of came out of nowhere. Deep down, I think we weren’t really sure in 2015 that we could win it," coach Steve Kerr recently said to Wes Goldberg of the Bay Area News Group. "We were trying to convince ourselves that we could, but we didn’t really know.

"And whereas in ’17 we knew we were the best team in the world, and we knew we were going to win the championship. We had the champion’s confidence for winning in ’15 and then we had Kevin Durant. So it’s like a totally different level of belief.”

Yeah, that KD guy was pretty, pretty, pretty good (Larry David voice).

He averaged 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steals, while shooting nearly 56 percent from the field and better than 47 percent from deep.

It's insane to think about the fact that about three-and-a-half months prior to hoisting the NBA Finals MVP trophy, Durant was told that his season was over after injuring his knee against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 28.

[RELATED: Why KD’s first NBA title was beginning of his Warriors end]

"The first diagnosis we got was that I broke my leg -- fractured my tibia," he said on The Bill Simmons Podcast in late March 2017. "And that's a four or five month recovery ... I just bust out crying ... this is my first year with the team, we're playing very well at the time. I was playing well individually. It was definitely a good time for our team.

"I wrapped my mind around this long recovery and what it's gonna take for me to get back. And then we got a call like, 'We checked the scans again ...' and they told me it was just a bruise there and I sprained my MCL.

"And that reaction in the car was like second to none. That emotional roller coaster was something out of a movie."

That's some wild stuff.

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