The scene inside NBA locker rooms after games is absolute chaotic. Especially when you are in Madison Square Garden, the media capital of the world. Not even fifteen minutes after the Magic defeated the Knicks 114-102 last night, reporters by the dozens packed inside the Magic’s compact dressing room to fire away questions to a bunch of half-naked players. While Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Vince Carter attracted the largest crowds, second-year sensation Ryan Anderson somehow escaped the hoopla. Anderson was practically alone, looking relaxed near the back of the locker room with his feet dipped inside a large Gatorade cooler full of ice.
Anderson, who was a rookie with the Nets last season, was viewed as just a “throw-in” in the Vince Carter blockbuster trade over the summer. Now, the former Cal standout has been one of the most important role players (11.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg) on this championship contending Orlando team. I sat down with Anderson to talk about his breakout sophomore season and the recent firing of his former coach Lawrence Frank.
Dime: Are you surprised with your impact this season?
Ryan Anderson: Nah, you know I’m just playing my game and trying to have a good time. I have a ton of great players behind me and their unselfish guys so it makes it easier for me to just go out and play. Coach has given me the green light to shoot it when I’m open, so it’s a lot of fun to play for Stan.
Dime: What has been the biggest adjustment from last year to this year?
RA: The biggest adjustment is just moving to a new environment. You got all new teammates, you have to create bonds, you have to create a name for yourself, you have to show your team what you can do, so it took awhile for me to get comfortable with that. I mean now, obviously, we’re really comfortable with each other. It took me awhile.
Dime: You’re on a team with a lot of veterans. What kind of advice have they given you?
RA: Well Vince has been my veteran for two years now. He’s always just given me advice to be really confident. You know, shoot the ball when I’m open, basically telling me to be aggressive. All these guys are unselfish. So if they’re doubled, they’re going to kick and it out and they want me to shoot it. So it’s great to have the confidence of my teammates like that.
Dime: A lot of people didn’t know who you were last year and now you’re starting to make a name for yourself. Are you starting to get recognized more and more when you go out?
RA: I mean, in Orlando it’s different because we’re the only team there so I mean everybody knows the team. But I don’t really pay too much attention to that (laughs) I just love playing basketball and love playing on this team. I try to live as normal a life as possible.
Dime: What did you think of the whole Lawrence Frank firing today?
RA: You know it’s tough. I think he’s a great coach. I think he’s done a lot of great things for New Jersey. It’s just hard, they’ve had so much bad luck this season with injuries. Of course, they’re a rebuilding program, so of course it’s going to be tough for any coach. But in no way could you blame Lawrence Frank. I wish the best for him, I’m sure he’s going to find a great job somewhere.
Dime: How was he influential for you?
RA: He really taught me a ton last year. He taught me to remain confident and to basically play like I can play. He also taught me off the court, to keep working hard and good things will come to you.
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