Off the Court: Ryan Anderson

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

If the writers who cover the NBA still compiled an “All-Interview Team,” New Orleans Hornets forward Ryan Anderson would be in contention as an honoree on an annual basis. The personable 24-year-old’s agreeable nature helped make him one of the Orlando Magic’s fan favorites and a popular teammate. The California native has one of the most unique perspectives of any athlete, even saying he has to pinch himself when it hits him that he’s actually playing in the NBA. Anderson, who like Hornets head coach Monty Williams often expresses the importance of his religious beliefs, discussed some of his background recently with Hornets.com:

Person who had the most influence on his basketball career: “My AAU coach in the Sacramento area, Jason Barton. He always believed in me and had faith that I could do something bigger than just playing in college. One of the quotes he told me was to always go out on the court like you’re the best player, no matter who you’re going against. It’s that attitude that you have to have playing. I don’t want to call it cockiness, but you have to have confidence in yourself.”

People who’ve had the most influence on him on and off the court: “My parents instilled some great values in me and always told me to be humble. I grew up in a Christian household and went to an amazing church. I had not only a great family at home, but a great church family as well. It is Sun Hills Community Church in El Dorado Hills, Calif.”

Best moment as an athlete: “There are so many moments where I have to pinch myself that I am actually doing this (playing in the NBA). But getting drafted and hearing your name called is one of the most amazing feelings, to see your dream come true. I remember I was huddled up in a fetal position that night, so nervous, until my name got called.”

How he chose his current uniform number of 33: “The number 33 has always been my favorite number. There is also some symbolism to it. Jesus, when he died on the cross, was 33 years old. People also say that I shoot threes, so it fits that way as well. A lot of people think it’s because of that.”

Something fans might be surprised to know about him: “I can catch things, like grapes, in my mouth from long distances. I did something with the Magic last year where they were tossing grapes off a second story. I am pretty talented at that.” [laughs]

Favorite thing about New Orleans: “So far it’s the food. I consider myself something of a food connoisseur. I’ve been to so many amazing restaurants. I’m excited to keep trying new places and figure out my favorite one.”

Pregame ritual: “I pray before every game. On game days, I get the same meal and always have to watch a movie while I’m eating it. Then I take a nap and go to the game. For me, sometimes I can get in my own head, so watching a movie and relaxing, getting my mind in the right place, is huge.”

First job: “I worked at a Mexican restaurant when I was in high school. I worked there a few days a week as a busboy. I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m glad I did it because I got to experience it. Instead of just being thrown into the NBA, I’m very grateful to have this opportunity. There wasn’t a lot of business at the restaurant, so a lot of times I was just hanging out and cleaning tables.”

Favorite athlete as a kid: “Michael Jordan. I loved watching the Bulls play growing up. My family wasn’t a very big sports family, so I’d kind of sneak in and watch games.”

What he’d be doing if he weren’t an NBA player: “I’d probably be working with my brother-in-law, just trying to figure out what my career would be. [laughs] My brother-in-law is a bartender at a nice restaurant in the Sacramento area and is one of my best friends. I had this conversation with him recently and I told him if I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be hanging out with you, working at the restaurant.”

Closest friends currently playing on other NBA teams: “I’m really close with Marcin Gortat of Phoenix, a former teammate in Orlando. Also Brook Lopez, who I played with in New Jersey. Vince Carter is a close friend and just a good guy. He took me under his wing when I was a rookie. I’m always grateful for that, to have such a high-profile guy give you confidence and have your back. Jon Brockman (recently with Houston) is also a really great guy who I stay in touch with. He’s a great Christian guy. He’s kind of similar to me, in that he is like ‘This is crazy that I’m here (in the NBA).’ He’s a hard-worker who hustles and does the dirty work.”

Favorite type of music: “I like Christian music, worship music. I love the radio station here 89.1 FM. Occasionally I will listen to some hip-hop, but it depends. Right now, to me, music isn’t that great. There isn’t a lot of music that I find myself drawn to at this point.”

Favorite TV shows: “My favorite show of all time is Dexter. I just started the first season of Breaking Bad and love it. I also think Game of Thrones is a great show, as well as Revenge.”

Favorite movies of all time: “It’s tough for me to narrow it down to even a few, because I love movies. I love the Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones – adventure-type movies. I’d also list Lord of the Rings and Goodfellas. All of those are in my top 10.”

Favorite websites: “I’m not a big computer surfer, but if I go online I like to check out recent news on Yahoo.com, to see if I missed anything.”

What he enjoys about his Twitter page: “Twitter is a cool thing to me because it’s a great way to interact with fans, or with people in general. I like to be able to talk to whoever I want. I don’t have a crazy amount of followers, but I think it’s a great way to show people who I really am outside of basketball. I actually rarely ever tweet about basketball.”