Timberwolves Sundiata Gaines and Anthony Tolliver Remember Their Time in Boise
Former Stampeders Show Love to Treasure Valley

Former Stampeders Sundiata Gaines and Anthony Tolliver are both on the Minnesota Timberwolves roster. We recently conducted a conference call with the two to see how their season is coming along and their thoughts on their past with the Stampede. Interview conducted by Travis Tate.

How is your season going so far?

Anthony Tolliver: So far, I think weíre doing alright. I think weíve exceeded expectations, at least as far as what other people have expected of us this year, but thatís not good enough for us. I think we have a lot more we can accomplish. But we are definitely taking some steps in the right direction.

What are the main differences between the D-League and the NBA?

Sundiata Gaines: I think playing in the D-League is more for developing your game, as far as trying to enhance your skills. As far as the NBA, everybody at every position is talented. Youíve always got to make a second or third or fourth effort in order to execute a play or on defense to help your teammates. The play is a whole lot faster with more talented players. Guys have a better IQ of what to do on the floor; itís just a little tougher.

What has been the impact of the Stampede organization on you?

A.T.: I think that last year being in that system allowed us to really show our skill set, to show teams what we have to bring to the table. In the past, for me, I played in the D-League before, and we had the system that didnít really allow me to get better. The system in Idaho with coach MacKinnon allowed me and Sundiata to show people what we could do. So, thatís definitely a big help to advance my career to the NBA.

S.G.: Iíd say the same thing, coach MacKinnon had the system for us to get up and down a bit more. Anthony and I, that fit our style of play. From that standpoint, we were playing up and down and winning and executing with other good talent around you. That gave me my chance for Utah Ė I was already playing 30 minutes a game, so when I went to Utah, I was ready when my name got called to go in the games. It gave me that confidence.

What are your memories of playing with the Stampede?

A.S.: Our super cold practice gym [laughs] Ė oh my gosh. That is the one memory I know Iíll forever remember. At practice, we had to wear like three layers. But really, I just enjoyed playing, we had good crowds and had a lot of fun, like during the showcase, had good times in the gym.

S.G.: Our team bus, we had to take that everywhere. It broke down? [Laughs]It had some issues. We had to take it everywhere to go shopping or get food or whatever. On the court, just the whole staff, they put a lot of energy in and they were excited like we were Ė we had a good supporting cast. Itís a pretty good organization to help us grow as individuals and players.

How much attention do you pay to the D-League and the Stampede now?

Anthony: I usually click on the D-League site here or there, just to see whatís going on, to see who Ďs getting called up. Thatíll always be a part of my career and who I am as a player, thatís part of my past to get to where I am. Iíll always see whatís going on in the D-League, just to check in on Idaho and where Iíve played in the past.

Sundiata: I probably check twice a week and see how some players are doing who I know personally. I try to see whatís going on with the Stampede. Even though I only played about 13 games, thatís part of where my career started at.

Sundiata, if you donít get to stay on with the Timberwolves, would you consider coming back to the Treasure Valley to play with the Stampede?

Sundiata: With Anthony, heís been with a lot of teams and situations, heís got a lot of experience, so for him, heís been around a lot longer than me. On my behalf, Iíd love to be in Minnesota the rest of the year, come into the free agent summer and keep my options open. But if things donít work out here, Iím not sure. Iíll probably wait around a week or a couple of weeks, and I would go back to Idaho and see what I could do there.

Anthony, tell me about the YouTube video and recent story and pictures from your engagement.

A.T.: The first video, the decision, was really just a very, very small thing that I wanted to do just for fun. I made it for my family and friends to laugh at me. I wasnít trying to get any media attention, it just blew up. Itís been crazy how many people have watched that, and then when I go to cities and Iím signing autographs, they say, ďoh, I loved your YouTube video.Ē Itís unbelievable how something can become so big. With the proposal , the original idea for me to ask my girl was just something low-key. I wanted not to not have video or pictures; that was our own personal thing and I just wanted to have pictures of that stuff happening. The people from the team were the ones to do it, so they asked if it could be used and write a story. They originally wanted to ask about it, I didnít really want any attention.

S.G.: So, you got a baby on the way?

A.T.: [Laughs] Yeah, if my girl gets pregnant, Iíll put that on YouTube [Laughs].