Posted: Sept. 7, 2004
NBA Japan introduced the newest member of the Phoenix Suns, Yuta Tabuse, at a press conference held in Tokyo. The following is the complete transcript, translated into English, including remarks from NBA Japan's Managing Director Hideki Hayashi and the Sun’s rookie point guard.
NBA Japan Managing Director Hideki Hayashi: Thank you all for gathering today despite your busy schedules. We are honored to have all of you with us. We are happy to announce that the Phoenix Suns and Yuta Tabuse have signed a contract. It is our pleasure to hold this press conference as NBA Japan with so many of you, as Yuta is preparing for his departure for the States. We are sorry that we could not make this announcement earlier, but thank you very much for coming today.
We know that this kind of press conference concerning a player’s contract is usually held along with a team staff or with the head coach, but as I mentioned before, Yuta will be departing soon, and it will be difficult to hold this kind of press conference in Japan. That is why NBA Japan has decided to have this conference.
As Yuta leaves for the States, he will continue to work hard to prepare himself for the preseason and for the regular season schedule. We believe that his efforts will encourage Japanese basketball players and all NBA fans. We are truly happy to be able to support Yuta this way, and along with all of you, we would like to continue to support and cheer him.
Thank you once again for gathering today. Here, I’d like to introduce Mr. Yuta Tabuse.
Hayashi: We’d like you to wait just a little while to turn the microphone to Yuta. It is my joy to report this great news to all of you. The Phoenix Suns and Yuta Tabuse have signed a multi-year contract. As you can find it in the release handout, Suns President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo commented, “Yuta will get every opportunity to make our team” and perhaps this shot at the league will work out for him to be the first Japanese-born NBA player. It must be very encouraging for Yuta to be valued this way at this point. At the same time, NBA is an extremely competitive league. Yuta has proven his ability in the summer leagues, and we hope that he will continue to appeal his skills to the team. Mr. Colangelo also said, “Mr. Tabuse has a great feel for the game and pushes the ball up the floor extremely well. He really has the ability to electrify an audience.” I am happy to hear these words, as this is a remark that corroborates the idea that Yuta is capable to compete in the high-leveled league of the NBA. Now, I’d like to hear words from Yuta.
Suns Guard Yuta Tabuse: Thank you very much for coming today despite your busy schedules. Yesterday, I singed an official contract with the Phoenix Suns. Although I signed the paper, I know that a tough road waits ahead of me, and I would like to continue to work to improve my game. I appreciate your kind and unchanging support. Thank you.
Hayashi: Thank you, Yuta. Here we’d like to open it up to questions.
Question: You mentioned that a tough road waits ahead of you. How do you feel at this point?
Tabuse: I am very happy that I was able to sign. But as I said, this is just the starting line, and I know that this is the real beginning. I would like to continue to stay focused.
Question: You have been playing basketball in the States, which makes you a pioneer as a Japanese basketball player. What kind of difficulties have you experienced during this time? And what kind of difficulties do you expect in the future?
Tabuse: Well, the language is different, and that is a part that I struggled with, and I still have a hard time now and then. And the life-style is totally different, too, and that has been hard, but I attended college for three years, and I’ve been challenging since last year. As I played in the ABA, I started to get used to the life-pattern of the States, so I shouldn’t have that much of a problem.
Question: Assuming that your height will be a disadvantage in the NBA, what part of your game do you think needs to be improved? Also, what part of your game do you think will be something that could cover the disadvantage?
Tabuse: I’ve been playing basketball all my life with guys bigger than myself, and I’m used to that. I am learning and figuring out how I can stay at the level each day in practices. I don’t consider my height as a disadvantage. Instead, I will try to do some things that I am capable of doing and others cannot. I am likely to be playing off the bench often, and when I do, I will try to change the pace of the game and give the team a boost. Hopefully the fans could think that I would do something special whenever I get in the game.
Question: You wore number 13 when you played with the Denver Nuggets last year, but Steve Nash will wear the number 13 for the Phoenix Suns. If you have a number that you wish to wear, please tell us.
Tabuse: To tell you the truth, I did want to wear number 13. But since that’s impossible, I am thinking about it now.
Question: Mr. Hayashi, Yuta was contracted with the Denver Nuggets last year. What‘s the difference between this year’s and last year’s contract?
Hayashi: We are unable to disclose the information concerning the contract per team policy, but we can say that the commitment by the team is bigger as they have made a multi-year offer. The team seems to have high expectations for Yuta as they have made the offer at this point, and as I have mentioned earlier, Mr. Colangelo commented, “Yuta will get every opportunity to make our team.” These words really support the idea that the team has very high expectations for Yuta. And of course, I know that Yuta will continue to work hard, and the rest is up to him, as he will receive full support from the team.
Question: Yuta, are their any former NBA players that you would like to mirror?
Tabuse: Last year, I was playing with the Nuggets, and I was able to play with Earl Boykins who is my size. That was a big experience for me and I learned a lot, so I watch his game and learn from him.
Question: What is your frank impression of the Suns?
Tabuse: They’ve added (Steve) Nash as their PG, and they also added a SG. The team looks really different from last year, and it looks like they were able to add good players to their team. I can’t wait to be on the same court with those high-leveled players. I’m really excited.
Question: I know I’m getting ahead of myself by asking this, but do you think the team has a chance to make it to the playoffs?
Tabuse: Right now, my goal is to wear the uniform and get on the court, so I’m not in the position to think about the playoffs.
Question: How did it feel like playing in the summer league this year?
Tabuse: I had no clue what kind of situation or the game would be like when I participated in the summer league last year with the Dallas Mavericks. On the other hand, this year’s challenge with the Suns was much easier for me as far as playing everyday, since I had a pretty good idea of what it was going to be like. Since there were only 2 point-guards on the team including myself, I had a chance to play a lot in games, and I think I was able to do what I had to do. I think that these positive things became factors to this contract.
Question: Do you think it was a long way or rather short until you made your dream come true now by signing with an NBA team?
Tabuse: Well, it certainly wasn’t short, but the last couple of years challenging in the US were very productive. It seems like a short time now that I am in this type of situation, but looking back, those days were very gainful.
Question: How do you value your skills improving this year compared from last year?
Tabuse: Last year, I was afraid of making mistakes and I knew that this made me play scared, and this was where I needed improvement on. This year, I played hard and all out, like it would be the last try for me, and playing aggressively led to positive results.
Question: Mr. Hayashi, I would like to know if you have decided specifically on how the NBA Japan would be supporting Yuta as the window of Japan?
Hayashi: Yuta will be placing his home in the US, and the NBA Japan will make efforts to set up solid accesses to the team and the players especially for the media members for better interviews and coverage. Also, we plan to get a few more comments from the team and offer more information in the near future. NBA Japan would like to ask all of the media members to continue to give a warm support to Yuta. I’m sure all of you have a various requests, and please feel free to contact NBA Japan.
Question: I assume that your number one priority now is to wear a uniform and stand on the court, but right now, there are 3 point-guards on the team, Nash, Barbosa, and Eisley, and you will be the fourth. This means that you will need to kick off one of them to make the final roster. What do you consider as your strength that would surpass the other three players, and that if you could prove it, you have a good chance of making the roster?
Tabuse: I am small, so I will try to make the most of my quickness. As a backup of the starting PG Barbosa in the summer league, whenever he slowed down or the team lost energy, I was able to get in the game and change the pace of it. In that sense, it doesn’t matter who the starting PG is. I believe that I have my own job whenever I enter the game as a backup, and that is where I will fight.
Question: Ichiro is also a Japanese athlete, who competes in the US as a Seattle Mariner. He plays a different sport, but did his strong appearance encourage you to play in the US? You’re scheduled to play a pre-season match in Seattle on October 16, and Ichiro has interests in the NBA. If you have a chance, would you like to meet him?
Tabuse: The athletes who play overseas do encourage me in a way, and they have always been my role models. I don’t know if I will actually get a chance to meet him even if I go to Seattle, but I would certainly like to at least ask him to shake hands.
Question: What is your strong point and weak point when you compare yourself with Earl Boykins?
Tabuse: That’s not for me to decide. But he has a longer experience, and when I play with him, I really feel that he’s playing with much confidence. I don’t have that experience, yet, and I really felt that was a big difference when I was playing with him.
Question: Last year, you were with the Nuggets. This year, you are with the Phoenix Suns and they offered you a multi-year contract. Do you feel that you are valued higher?
Tabuse: I’ve signed the contract, and I think it’s the NBA that nobody has any promises besides the true superstars. I really felt this last year when I was with the Nuggets. I know I shouldn’t be laid back because I got a contract, and I’ll continue to work hard pushing myself knowing that everyday is a challenge.
Question: I’ve heard that you lived by yourself in the States last year. Will it be any different this time? It seems that your face is a bit narrower compared to last year. What kind of things did you eat and what kind of training have you done?
Tabuse: I’ll continue to live by myself in the States. I had 3 months after the ABA season before the summer league started this year. During this break, I watched what I ate to condition myself, and I tried to lose some muscle. I guess that’s the reason why my face is narrower (laugh).
Question: There are a lot of great PG’s in the NBA. Please name three players that you would like to face.
Tabuse: I love Nash, so I’m really excited to play on the same team with him. I’m looking forward to face Boykins now that we’re on different teams. That’ll be my goal. And, I would like to face Shaq and actually “experience” his size.