Very few players in the league have the kind of motivation Toronto Raptors goalie Fred VanVleet has. He reveals he got it from Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson.
We see a lot of guys getting drafted into the league very young or getting the hype throughout their college careers and then being drafted as top prospects but delivering well below expectations. There are several stories like this.
But there are very few like Fred VanVleet who was not drafted in 2016 but is now the playmaker for the only Canada-based NBA team, the Toronto Raptors.
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Fred inherited this role from a six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry who went to the Miami Heat this offseason. They’re big shoes to fill in, but the 6’1 Wichita State goaltender is up to the task. He has spoken about all aspects of his life since he was a child 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 “All The Smoke” podcast. The two NBA champions also have similar career paths like Fred. Being the great interviewers that they are, they asked him some extremely relevant questions. When Jackson asked him what made him fall in love with the game and who he had idolized growing up, Fred said,
“I was 5 when I started to really play, my dad was a hooper. My first memory was of a Lakers and Sixers final, I fell in love with Kobe and I fell in love with the Lakers.
He went on to describe how he would get the clippings from Slam magazines and put Kobe, Jayson Kid, Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups on his wall. And then add something from each of these players’ games when playing on the streets.
He also remembered something from an Allen Iverson where the Philadelphia legend spoke of “playing every game like it’s my last game.”
This is what you will see when you watch Fred play on the basketball court. The guy gives his hundred percent on every possession at both ends of the floor. And that too with great efficiency.
The Mamba in Fred VanVleet
Since playing a big role on the bench for the Raptors in winning their 2019 championship, which surprised many, VanVleet has seen a much bigger role.
Again after their MVP of the Finals, the departure of Kawhi Leonard, no one expected Toronto to even be in the playoff race rather than think they would undergo a rebuild. But they finished second in the Eastern Conference.
VanVleet, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam took them there and as a reward they won a 4-year, $ 85 million contract, which turned out to be the best contract for an undrafted player.
Well deserved for the guy who went to 18 different teams for testing before the 2016 NBA Draft, was undrafted, signed with the Raptors, played in their G-League affiliate, then the helped win an NBA championship, and now runs that franchise. He is averaging 19.7 points, 6.9 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals a game.
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While he hasn’t talked about Kobe’s mindset on the podcast, he certainly has that toughest mindset about him that has kept him going to maintain the work ethic he has worked his way up through in his career. .