José Calderón: "I'm Still Having Fun Playing Basketball"

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Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

Jose Calderon put his stamp on his brief first season in Atlanta in the Hawks' Game 4 win over Washington: 10 points, 5 assists, and whopping plus/minus rating of plus-29. After the game, Head Coach Mike Budenholzer heaped on some well-deserved praise.

"No doubt, Jose has infected us with his spirit," Budenholzer said. "We'll continue to hopefully build on how he plays the game."

It wasn't the first time that Budenholzer had used the word spirit in reference to Calderon. In the month-and-a-half since the 35-year-old had joined the Hawks, his coach had used that word six or seven times in describing him to the media.

When asked about why he thought his coach would refer to him in such a manner, Calderon stepped back to reflect. 

"I enjoy every day," he said. "I'm still having fun playing basketball. You just go out there and try to do your best. Some days are great. Other nights, it's maybe not your day. It's the other guy's day."

Then Calderon, who has made 40.9 percent of his three-point attempts in his career, dipped into his motivational philosophy for keeping a positive outlook when the other guy came out on top.

"It's about enjoying what you do, and that's what I try to tell everybody, 'Hey. When we wake up tomorrow, let's go hard again and let's try to do better.' That's all we can do, and that has been me all these years. I'll keep doing that until I retire."

Speaking of retirement, Calderon reminded the assembled media that after winning a third Olympic medal with Spain last summer, he retired from international play – with the hopes of postponing the end of his NBA career for as long as possible.

"This year will be the first with no national team," he said. "After Rio last year, I just told them it was the perfect finish to my career with the national team. We had another medal. It has been many years now. I want to just concentrate and play here two or three more years or whatever I can."

If Calderon continues to play heady, spirited basketball with a pass-first mentality and a sublimely beautiful shooting stroke, he will indeed be a coveted player in the NBA for a few more seasons.