Jose Calderon Interview



Q: As disappointed as you are that you finished with the silver in the Eurobasket tournament, was that as good as you have played in international competition?
A: I think the expectation was high because of the World Championship. The silver was not bad, with a little more time. It was a little tough right after the game because everyone was thinking Spain was going to win the tournament easily. Everybody saw that there are other good teams like Russia. They really played good in the finals. No, it wasn’t our best game in the tournament and we just lost the final. Two or three days after, I can see it more bright, more like a goal. We left everything on the court, we cannot give anymore and we have to be proud of the silver. Q: Have you overcome your defeat? How do you think this affected the team and how will it affect your career in the NBA?
I think right now we are thinking: in the game we played hard and we feel proud of how my team played and it’s a big thing to have the silver medal with us. With the personal, I think always I try to be a better player. I have to improve my game every game. I’m feeling comfortable. I’m feeling great in this tournament that I can play with these teammates. I am going to keep working hard to be a better player in the NBA, too -- try to grow up and go step by step. I’m going to keep working hard for sure.
Q: Your shooting percentage was up pretty dramatically between your first and second seasons in the league, how much of that is due to learning the difference between the European game and the NBA?
A: I was just working hard with my coaches. I just tried to be studious and I just tried to become a better player. I had to change the way I shot before because I had my elbow too open. With some changes, right now, I feel more comfortable. I’ll be a little better of a shooter.
Q: What are the differences between Pepu Hernandez and Sam Mitchell when you talk about their vision of basketball?
A: The main thing is they coach two different kinds of basketball. I think we are talking sometimes how it is different between Europe and the NBA. Both of them know how they want to play and they coach with that idea the whole season- whether things are going good or things are going bad. I think that’s the best thing about both of them. They are different because we have more time to practice here. In the NBA you don’t have the time, you have to be more comfortable with your players and try to explain to them how you want to play without the practices. I think, Sam, in that kind of situation he is really good. Pepu has more time, its one-and-a-half months. Both of them know how to give the 12 players roles in the team and the 12 players know how important they are for the team whether they play 24 minutes or two. I think both of them are similar in this situation.

Q: Were you thinking about Jorge Garbajosa’s leg injury when you were on the court together?
A: No. Throughout the summer we talked about his injury. I think he worked pretty hard for too many hours to win this Eurobasket. Everything is all right. We can not think about what happened, whether he played good or not. It was a great job what he did. He was an important player for us. In his first game after, everyone was worried, but the doctors say he was ok and we went with that.
Q: You’re going into the final year of your Raptors contract. Have you given much thought to staying in Toronto or would you consider going somewhere where you probably would get playing time?
A: I am not worried about where I am going to play. I felt great in Toronto from the first day with the fans with everybody. It’s true all the players want to play more minutes, but you have to see how the minutes are. I am very happy with my minutes, with my role with the Raptors. I feel very important with this team. I feel great with this role right now. I don’t know what is going to happen. It’s my city, it’s my team right now and I’m feeling great with my coach and my staff.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most about training camp in Italy?
A: It’s going to be fun. It’s a little different for us, the Raptors. I think it will be fun for my teammates to know a little bit of Italy and of Spain. We can show them a little bit how we live because for some of them it is the first time in Europe. We can be more a team because we are going to have to do more things together. I think that’s more important for the NBA season. We can go to dinner, we can go out together and that’s the best thing about this Europe tour.
Q: Do you think Andrea Bargnani can make the Raptors take the next step to Conference Finals? Do you think he can be an All-Star player?
A: For sure. I think Andrea is going to be one of the best players in the NBA. I think he can do it. There are not too many guys like him. He can dribble, he can shoot … a little bit of everything. His first year was really good. For us, he is a really important player. He is great. He has everything to be a star.
Q: People here are extremely sad that they’ve lost Luis Scola to the NBA. What do you think his future holds in the NBA with the Houston Rockets?
A: I think Luis is a great player, one of the players in Europe that everybody knows can play basketball. He was the MVP in the last Pan Am tournament. I think he can play really good in the NBA. I think he is ready. He went to a great team. Houston is a great team for him; he can play with Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. He can enjoy that team and he can fight for going far in the Western Conference. I think it’s a great team for him.
Q: You’ve been playing regularly for about two years. Are you worried about wearing down with all the basketball you’ve played?
A: It’s been a long time, but the thing is, when we finished the season May 4, I had almost three months to relax and take care of myself. I think this Eurobasket tournament, to be ready for training camp and next season for Raptors, I think being off for five months is too much. I think for the last two weeks it was harder because you play a lot of games. You’re just practicing your job to be ready for the season and last year I felt great after the World Championship when I arrived to Toronto. Hopefully, this year it will be the same. I feel great. I now have 10 or 12 days to relax to be ready to go again. I’m expecting this season again that we can be great.
Q: After making the playoffs last season, do you think there’s an opportunity for Toronto to win this year?
A: I don’t know if it is a real option to win the ring for sure. Right now, you have to think that. When you start a competition you have to play for a win. We’ll go step-by-step, game-by-game without thinking too much. Just thinking to win the next game and see what happens then. I think we have a better team than last year -- more players, more rotation. Everyone has to go in the same direction. The guys we signed, the guys that played last year, everyone is thinking in a group and I think it’s a very important thing to be successful this year.
Q: Do you think your scoring will increase this year? Do you think you can be more dangerous offensively?
A: I like to play for the team first. It doesn’t mean that I cannot shoot or be more aggressive on the basket. I’m going to try and play like always. If I have options and I can shoot more times or not, I can make the decision. When we start to play we can see what’s going to happen. I don’t think about if I’m going to score more or not, I just think if we are going to win more games. It’s how I feel. I’m going to try to be a better player scoring and assisting for my teammates. I am going to be a complete player. I don’t think too much at then end of the season if I’m going to score more or not.
Q: How are you going to describe Madrid to your friends at the NBA when they get here?
A: I don’t know how we are going to prepare for Madrid. You have a little bit of everything; it’s a great city. I am waiting for that day, for that game. I think it’s a great thing, my team coming to my country, here in Spain with the Raptors. Like I said, I am feeling much better; I am starting to see the silver medal more bright. The expectation was too high and we were thinking the silver was not good enough. But I think its great, the silver. We were World Champions and then the silver next year. I think it’s good for us.
Q: Have you heard the rumors about a possible confrontation between the governor and the Federation?
A: No I’m in Spain relaxing. I’m going to fly straight to Treviso to join my team. I just read something about the Federation, but we cannot see right now the Olympic Games without the same team -- coaches, players or people in the Federation. We are a team and everyone is working together. I didn’t hear anything officially, but the thing is we are together and we work together. I cannot see the team without them.
Q: What do you think has elevated basketball in Spain to its current level?
A: I think the best thing, the most important thing, this team, we’ve been working together a long time. We were European Champions in ‘98, Under-18 World Champions in ‘99. It’s the same team, six or seven players playing together a long time, the whole summer. We are feeling like a team, we have known each other for a long time. I think it’s a little easier for us. The key of Spanish basketball right now is they have some new players that are going to join the team in a few years and that’s a good sign for us. We are going to continue to be one of the top teams in the world right now.
Q: What did you do to relax after the NBA season?
A: A little bit of everything -- be with my family, my wife; be here in Spain and relax for almost a month without basketball. I was taking care of myself, eating good. I worked on my shot, physical conditioning, lifting and getting ready for the season with the Raptors. It’s going to be a great season for us and I want to be part of the success of the team. I think we can do great work this year. Everybody has to be ready for this year because it’s a very important year for the Raptors.
Q: For a lot of your North American teammates it’s going to be their first time in Madrid. What should they expect to find there?
A: I think its going to be easy with coach here and me here. We want to get all the team together to go to some Spanish restaurants and show how Spain is our country. And the same in Italy with Andrea. I think they are going to know a little bit about these two countries. It’s going to be a great experience for the team because we are going to do a lot of things together. We are going to be a better team because sometimes you play better with your teammates once you know them outside, personally. In this kind of situation, we can make more family, more of a group. I think it’s great. That’s why everyone is waiting for this, because we are going to know each other better.
Q: Is there a lot of pressure to play in front of your fans in your home country?
A: There is a little pressure because everyone is going to be waiting to see how we play against Real Madrid, if they are going to beat an NBA team. It’s the same as last year with the other teams coming to Europe. Everyone was waiting to see what was going to happen with the NBA teams. That’s why I think there was a little pressure, because everyone is saying you cannot lose games to real Madrid. I just try to do my job with my teammates. That’s it.