Very few players in the league have the kind of drive like the Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has. He reveals that got it from the likes of Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson.
We see a lot of guys being drafted in the league very young or getting the hype throughout their college career and then get drafted as top prospects but deliver far lower than the expectations. There are several stories like that.
But there are very few like Fred VanVleet’s who went undrafted in 2016 but now is the starting point guard of the only NBA team based out of Canada, the Toronto Raptors.
Fred inherited this role from a six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry who went to the Miami Heat this off-season. Those are some big shoes to fill in, but the 6’1 guard out of Wichita State is up for the task. He talked about every aspect of his life since his childhood in a podcast appearance.
Fred VanVleet’s favorite NBA player is Kobe Bryant
VanVleet recently made an appearance with former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on their podcast “All The Smoke”. Both the NBA champs also having similar career trajectories like Fred. Being the great interviewers that they are, they asked him extremely relevant questions. When Jackson asked him what made him fall in love with the game and whom he idolized growing up, Fred said,
“I was 5 years old when I started really playing, my dad was a hooper. My first memory was a Lakers and Sixers finals, I just fell in love with Kobe and fell in love with the Lakers.”
He went on to describe how he would get the cut outs from Slam magazines and put Kobe, Jayson Kid, Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups up on his wall. And then add something from each of those players’ games when he was out playing in the streets.
He also remembered something from an Allen Iverson where the Philadelphia legend talked about “playing every game like it’s my last game”.
That’s what you’ll see when you watch Fred play on the basketball court. The guy gives his hundred percent on every possession on both ends of the floor. And that too with great efficiency.
The Mamba in Fred VanVleet
Since playing a big part from the bench for the Raptors in winning their 2019 Championship, which came as a surprise to many, VanVleet has seen a much bigger role.
Again after their Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard’s departure nobody expected Toronto to be even in the playoff contention rather they thought they’ll be going under a rebuild. But they finished second in the Eastern Conference.
VanVleet along with Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam led them there and as a reward earned a 4-year, $85-million deal which ended up being the best deal for an undrafted player.
Well deserved for the guy who went to 18 different teams for tryouts before the NBA Drafts in 2016, went undrafted, got to sign with the Raptors, played in their G-league affiliate, then helped them win an NBA championship, and now leads that franchise. He’s averaging 19.7 points, 6.9 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.7 steals a game.
Although he did not talk about Kobe’s mentality on the podcast he sure has that toughest of mentalities in him which has made him keep up the work ethic through which he climbed up this far in his career.