Auburn’s VanVleet happy to give back

ROCKFORD – Fred VanVleet, who led the Auburn Knights to third place in the 2012 IHSA Class 4A state tournament and did that one better by leading the Toronto Raptors to the NBA championship this past June, kicks off his third annual FVV Fan Fest and Summer Camp tonight at 5 p.m.

VanVleet met with local media on Thursday to talk about a whirlwind couple of months.

Q: How much do look forward to this weekend each summer?

“It’s relatively easy to pop up and do this one time, but to continue to do it and grow it and meet people’s expectations and meet my own expectations has been fun.”

Q: What does the summer camp mean to you, personally?

“Now, with the kids, this is my excuse to get out of the house and spend all day in the gym. I think I have more fun than some of the kids some times just being out there playing, teaching and coaching.”

Q: How enjoyable is it to work with the kids each summer?

“That’s the best part, to see how much it means to the kids and to have some sort of influence. Being able to guide them the right way and show them a trick or two that may help them later on. I always tell people I learned my free throw routine from Boylan biddy camp when I was eight or something and I still keep that shooting routine to this day.”

Q: How crazy has your life been these past two months?

“It’s been worse after we won, the parade and everything, as you can imagine, being pulled in a million different directions. Believe it or not, the actual finals was a lot calmer than the aftermath.
Both of the parades, we had one here and the one in Toronto. That was an out-of-body experience to see so many people in one place.”

Q: Have you thought about how much you’ve accomplished in your basketball career?

“I try not to (look back) too much. I definitely appreciate the journey, but I really try not to think about it too much because I’m focused on next year now. Believe it or not, I’m trying to flush it and work on doing it all over again. You have to stay hungry and keep climbing and keep wanthing it more. I’ve had a few down days where I could sit back and think about the low points and the times I was counted out. It’s been an unbelievable ride, but I’m only three years in.”

Q: Have you had to change your routine this summer?

“The weirdest thing for me is, usually, if you play basketball, you end on a loss. Very few times do you end a season with a championship. So to do that it’s a weird feeling of ‘what do you do now’ because usually you are wanting something more. When you lose and get knocked out, you’re already locked in. You say to yourself, ‘I’ve got to get back to work and come back and win it next year.'”

Q: Since winning the Finals, Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers, there are rumors Kyle Lowry will be traded you it was revealed you were requested in a trade. How does that affect you?

“That’s the business. That’s the business of the NBA. That’s not new to me. I’ve been in trade rumors since I’ve been in the NBA. You just ignore them and if you get that phone call, you deal with it then. We knew that Kawhi leaving was a possibility and with him leaving, obviously, the whole franchise changes and which direction they want to go. There’s been nothing substantial so far and we’ll see what happens going forward. Obviously, I don’t want to be traded, not many guys do, but you play the hand that you’re dealt.”

Q: What was your reaction to Kawhi leaving for the Clippers?

It wasn’t as extreme as how everyone else reacted. It was like, ‘alright, cool. That’s what you want to do.’ He texted us beforehand. We were a little taken back. We tried to put ourselves in his mindframe, because we all wanted him back. (Toronto) is a hard place to leave. I don’t think it was an easy choice for him. It was drawn out a little bit, but he decided to go home and we support him and are happy for him.

Q: In the NBA Finals, you took an elbow to the face from Shaun Livingston and you could on TV part of a tooth on the floor. Is that the worst elbow you’ve ever gotten?

“It was the worst elbow for sure. My older brother hit me in the face with a baseball bat before. I got head-butted high school one time and it was like this but it was above the eye and that took like six months to recover.
I had to get half a tooth put back on. My teeth actually is the worst part. They are still sore. My jaw is all jacked up.”

Q: What are the Raptors chances of repeating as NBA champions?

“We have to see what our roster looks like come training camp, but as it looks now, we’ve got a great team. We lost our superstar and our closer so other guys will have to step up. Pascal (Siakham) will have to take another step up. Norman (Powell) will have to take another step up and, as we’ve seen, in the playoffs anything can happen.”

Q: What does the NBA title mean to you, personally?

“If you think of all the all-time greats who never made it and never won it and to have your name in that bowl of champions or our team or our franchise is something special. Now we have to go back and fight and go back another time and another time. We definitely understand the reality that what we did was very hard to do and that’s what makes it so special.”

Posted on 07.12.19