Jose Calderon doesn’t fit the image of what many think an NBA player is like.
For one, he’s not from America. He’s not from Canada either despite playing for the Toronto Raptors. He’s from Spain. And he’s one of only a handful of NBA teams that are confident enough in the abilities of their European point guard to start him in what is possibly the most fiercely competitive position in the league.
For two, he’s not an out and out scorer despite Raptors head coach Jay Triano demanding him to show a greater selfish streak.
And for three, well, there’s no third point because Jose Calderon is actually pretty damn good.
Point guards in the league have it tougher than every other position out on the floor. They’ve always been thought of as the ‘coach on the court’, a leader and yet they’ve historically been the least physically imposing of all five positions.
Calderon doesn’t stray from type in either case. He both leads his team with a quiet composure which can be unsettling to the casual fan and he looks like he’s an everyday joe. He’s unassuming to say the least.
The 5 year veteran has claimed the role of leader on this current Raptors squad after the loss of Chris Bosh who left in the summer of 2010 to join the Miami Heat in what became a much publicised departure.
His consistent top 3 finish in the league in assist to turnovers is a nod to the composure he shows on the floor night in and night out as the starting pg of the Raptors.
And although leading a deflated Raptors squad into battle in the regular season, straight after their star player walked out on them, is slightly different to leading a contending Spanish team in international competition, his ability to lead by example has always been present.
But when asked about the 2012 Olympics and whether he fears his current understudy, teenage superstar Ricky Rubio, will oust him for control of the team, his answer is very simple:
“It’s not about who plays more, it’s about how many medals you win so no problem if Ricky Rubio takes the starting point guard spot.”
For some, that could be a mixed message. On the one hand Calderon shows his winning mentality and understanding of what’s important by focusing on the end goal – the medals. On the other hand, it could be a sign of weakness – backing down in the face of fierce competition and allowing the young Rubio to take his role.
But don’t ever let Jose hear you call him weak. Not only is he not weak, he’s shown his strength time and time again, most recently by playing four of the top point guards in the NBA in a row…and matching their output in the process.
“I just try to go out there and play” said Calderon “There are a lot of really good players in my position: Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Nash, Rondo… but I think it’s for somebody else to say how good I am”.
Fair enough. How about Calderon’s coach, Jay Triano?
“I have a huge amount of respect for him. Any guy that can put up the kind of numbers that he has of late, I mean, I have huge respect for him.”
“Jose has been around a lot and he’s played international basketball on a team that’s won a world championship. He has a great feel and if you look over some of his numbers, I mean 15 assists against the Mavs and 15 rebounds in the last two games combined says it all. He’s chasing rebounds and and he’s become a lot more effective for us on the defensive end of the floor.”
In order to be a leader though, you need more than just stats in your favour. So Triano continues..
“He makes every player that he plays with a better basketball player and you can’t ask for much more than that from a point guard.”
Calderon couldn’t have said it better himself.