Rookie season leaves Forbes hungry for more in 2011-12
On media day 2010, rookie Gary Forbes sat in his assigned chair and watched reporters pass him by as they made their rounds on the Nuggets practice court.
To the uninitiated masses, he was considered little more than training camp fodder, someone who would be just another name on the waiver wire within a few weeks.
Forbes sat back and made mental notes. As a diabetic who went undrafted out of college despite being named the 2007-08 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, he was used to being underestimated and overlooked.
The NBA would know his name soon enough.
Over the course of the next several months, Forbes established himself as a legitimate NBA player who could provide defense, scoring and energy while playing multiple positions. He dressed for all 82 games and helped the Nuggets go 8-3 in 11 starts.
“I learned a lot,” Forbes said. “It definitely helped me going on to the future. I got better. I think it’s going to help me improve this summer and, hopefully, next year with the Nuggets.”
Like most rookies, Forbes experienced plenty of highs and lows.
He scored 12 points and went toe-to-toe with Dirk Nowitzki in his first career start on Nov. 3 and made a spirited bid for inclusion in the Rookie-Sophomore game during All-Star Weekend.
As part of his NBA initiation, he sang a memorable rendition of Happy Birthday to teammate Kenyon Martin on Dec. 31. His 9.5 points per 48 minutes ranked ninth among all rookies, yet he averaged only 12.6 minutes and did not play in 19 games.
While Forbes was grateful for the experience, his rookie season left him hungry for more.
“I didn’t get the whole vibe yet. I think something’s still missing,” he said. “I want to play more and contribute more. Once that happens, I’ll realize I played a full NBA season.”
Nuggets coach George Karl knew little about Forbes when training camp started, but he was immediately impressed with his hustle, athleticism and willingness to play defense.
“Gary was a pleasant surprise,” Karl said. “He earned the opportunity to be on the court, and he helped us win some games when we had injuries early in the season.”
After playing for modest salaries overseas and in the NBA Development, Forbes resisted any big-ticket purchases during his first season with the Nuggets. He still doesn’t have his own car, but he planned to take a quick vacation on Maui.
“The first time I’ve spent money on myself,” he said with a smile.
After a break from basketball, Forbes plans to return to the gym to prepare for an appearance at the FIBA Americas Championship with the Panamanian national team.
“I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said. “That whole not-being-drafted-thing is still lingering. When the NBA season starts, I’m going to try to make my name be heard real loud.”