Forbes returns to Denver for first time with Toronto Raptors
Former Nuggets forward adjusting to new team, city
Though Panama-born and Brooklyn-raised, Gary Forbes will always have a special connection to Denver.
Invited to Nuggets training camp as an undrafted free agent in 2010, Forbes earned a roster spot and proved he belonged in the NBA, averaging 5.2 points in just 12.6 minutes. His production and versatility as a rookie helped him land a guaranteed deal with the Toronto Raptors in the offseason.
While in Denver, Forbes was considered a great teammate by both coaches and players. He would routinely stay after practices to work on his overall game, and he occasionally played 1-on-1 with teammate Al Harrington after games. In a recent interview, Harrington credited Forbes with helping him get through some tough times last season while battling injuries.
With the Raptors making their only Denver appearance of the season Friday night, Forbes spent a few minutes with Nuggets.com to discuss a variety of topics, including his friendship with Harrington, what he learned from coach George Karl and the adjustments he’s had to make in his second NBA season.
Q: What are some things you learned under Coach Karl during your rookie year?
A: It was a quick learning process for me, you know being the fact I was thrown in the fire right away and had to be a mature veteran right away. I couldn’t play as a rookie or act like a rookie, and dealing with all the outside stuff that we had to deal with, I just learned to be professional. As much as it is a game, it is a job and you have to come in there and take care of what you have to take care of like any other business.
Q: As an undrafted free agent, what motivated you to prove you belong in the NBA?
A: My dream was to play in the NBA. When I didn’t get drafted, it added a little fuel to my fire to come out and prove, not only to everyone else, but to myself that I could compete at a high level in NBA. I think that I’ve done that here and there, but I want to do that on a consistent basis. You know what when you want something so much, you will go to the ends of the earth to get it.
Q: What has been the biggest adjustment from your rookie season to this season?
A: It’s been two different seasons. Last year was my first season in the NBA, dealing with a veteran team. In my second year, I’ve been dealing with a fairly young team and just learning to be a leader. Last year, I didn’t really have that type of role. We had Al, Carmelo (Anthony), Chauncey (Billups), and all those veteran guys who could help steer me along in the right direction. It has helped me stay focused this season. Whether I play two minutes or 20, I always stay the course. I just have faith that better days are ahead.
Q: You and Al Harrington are pretty good friends. He credits you for keeping him positive during rough stretches last season. What were some things you took away from spending a whole season with him?
A: Al is like my big brother. I’m the godfather of one of his daughters. I always look up to him, being so close from the same neighborhoods, New Jersey and New York being pretty much the same. Al having 13 years in the league and coming upstairs and playing 1-on-1 with me after games really put it into perspective about how much he really loves the game and how much I love the game. Not many people play 1-on-1 with a rookie 13 years in, especially after a game where he would play 20 minutes, 5 minutes or 30 minutes. He was always willing to work out. It’s pretty much all about work. When you work hard, you pretty much get what you want.
Q: What are some differences between playing in Toronto and playing in Denver?
A: In Canada, you’re pretty much like a national team. You’re not just representing your city; you’re representing your entire country. It’s a little bit more pressure, but nothing that we stay away from. I loved the situation in Denver – great fans, great atmosphere and great history with the team. Toronto is something new, and I hope to be part of history in Toronto.
Q: What were some of your favorite moments from last season?
A: Everything, man. From playing in the NBA, to playing alongside guys I watched last year, and everyday walking into this arena and going to the practice courts. I got to put that jersey on and know that my dreams came true.
Q: With a year in the NBA under your belt, has it been easier for you to be more proactive with your approach to diabetes?
A: Yeah, I’m doing a lot of different stuff outside of basketball to help kids and overall people with their awareness of diabetes. Hopefully, I pray one day that we will have a cure for it, and that it won’t be an epidemic anymore.
Q: Finally, it was no secret last year around here that you were getting around town without a car, but did you finally get a car?
A: (Laughing) I still don’t have a car, man. I live right across the street from the arena.