The Los Angeles Lakers needed forwards to round out the guard-heavy rotation, and they might have found a gem in Juan Toscano-Anderson.
The Lakers agreed to a one-year deal with Toscano-Anderson, who is coming off an NBA Championship with the Golden State Warriors. Although he played sparingly, Toscano-Anderson is a versatile forward who can play up or down a position, which should help on the defensive end.
Although he grew up in the Bay Area, the forward grew up admiring Kobe Bryant and expressed how grateful he is to wearing the same jersey as his favorite player.
“It’s really cool,” Toscano-Anderson said during his introductory press conference. “This is someone who I admire and want to be like. I was one of those kids who my teachers had to tell me to sit down because I’m shooting paper balls in the trash yelling ‘Kobe!’ So to be able to put on the same jersey that Kobe put on, it’s all a part of the story. Playing at home was really cool, now getting to play for such a storied franchise, how many championships do they have here in L.A., 13? 17 total, but 13 here in L.A., right? I made sure I know that one.
“But just this journey can be so long and you can get lost in it, so these small victories, this is a small victory for me just to be able to put on a Lakers jersey. I know how the fans feel about the Lakers, I know how the world feels about the Lakers, but it’s not something that I take lightly. It’s very gratifying and like I said, it’s just another small victory in my journey. So hopefully I can win a championship in a Lakers jersey, that would be a huge victory as opposed to just putting on the jersey and feeling honored to put on the jersey. Hopefully we can follow in Kobe’s footsteps and win some championships here and I can be a part of it.”
After spending the first part of his career with the Warriors and seeing what it takes to win at the highest levels, Toscano-Anderson should be a valuable piece for the Lakers as they hope to make Bryant proud and win another title.
Juan Toscano-Anderson on wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey at the California Classic
It didn’t take long for Toscano-Anderson to endear himself to Lakers Nation as he came by to watch their Summer League team play against the Warriors in the California Classic. The 29-year-old arrived in a classic No. 8 Bryant jersey and he described how it felt to get a warm ovation from the crowd.
“It was incredible. Actually, when we were leaving home I asked my girlfriend ‘do you think I’m doing too much putting on this jersey?’ But I still have so much respect for the [Warriors] organization and fans there. I grew up a Warriors fan, but things change, teams change. I’m a Kobe fan, that was my favorite player ever. So ultimately it felt right. So then seeing the fans give me such an ovation and cheer for me, it was an incredible feeling, something I’ll never forget. It reminded me of all the love that I had there and still have there so it was pretty cool.”
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