Cory Joseph likes defense, winning
James Herbert: I wanted to sort of rewind back to June 23rd of this year – you waited your entire life for the NBA Draft. Could you give me a sort of play-by-play of that day?
Cory Joseph: I was in Toronto with my family: my parents, my grandparents, my girlfriend, my brother, my sisters, my dad and everybody. So I was just there just watching the draft. I knew a couple teams liked me in the first round so I knew I had a very good chance of getting in the first round. So a couple teams, it was either me and a couple of guys for a couple of teams and it came to twenty-nine, San Antonio picked me. So, it was great. Like you said, ever since you’re young you dream about it, so it was a dream come true. But it’s just the start. I know I’ve got a lot of work to do just like all of us rookies got a lot of work to do to go in there and prove ourselves. Everybody does, everybody starts at ground zero. So I’m just working hard and trying to get better.
JH: When you actually heard your name called, at number 29, what was the reaction like in that room on that day?
CJ: It was crazy. Everybody jumping, screaming, it was great. Shortly after, Coach Popovich, he called and we just had a conversation, talked. He just told me he’s looking forward to me coming out there and hopefully he’ll have me. He said just to try to get it to Tony as much as possible.
JH: What about that same night, when Tristan was picked at number four, what was it like for you to see that happen?
CJ: It was great. You know, Tristan’s like a brother. I knew him since yay-high, I know him like the back of my hand. So it was great. It was like me getting picked four.
JH: Speaking of Tristan and Texas, what would you say is the difference between you as a player before you went to Texas and where you are now?
CJ: I think my game, obviously from high school to college, the college level, the speed is different. The speed is a level higher, just like probably I’m sure the NBA, the college to NBA, so I’m going to have to adjust a little bit, which I’m trying to do right now, working on ballscreens and whatnot. But I think I got a lot smarter, game-smarter, and a lot more experience, stronger obviously.
JH: How about as a person after that year in college?
CJ: Well Findlay [Prep School] did a great job, I was away from home and they really prepared me for college. It was like a mini-college we had to manage our time wisely, time management just like we had to do in college. The mandatory study hall, practice, it set me up for college really good. So I felt like I’ve been a mature young kid from a long time ago, but college also helped me as well.
JH: If there’s one thing that Coach Barnes instilled in you, what would that be?
CJ: You get out of it what you put into it, man. Every day in practice, he was telling me. One day, say if I maybe made a soft move to the bucket, he’d always say, “Cory, you get out what you put into it.” You gotta go hard. Every time, so he made sure, he took pride in his defense. And you gotta go hard.
JH: Were you a Raptors fan growing up?
CJ: Of course.
JH: Who were your favorite players on those teams?
CJ: Obviously Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady when they were together, Muggsy Bogues, Damon Stoudamire, there’s a whole bunch.
JH: What about other players from around the league that you really liked or modeled your game after?
CJ: Well last year I watched a lot of Deron Williams ’cause we did the Utah offense. So I watched a lot of him. Obviously Steve Nash, too. Being from Canada, I’ve always loved Steve Nash since I was young.
JH: With Deron going to Turkey next year, are you going to be watching those games?
CJ: I don’t know, I’ll try to catch as much as possible. I don’t know what I’m going to do, you know, with the lockout right now I’m just playing for my Team Canada, focusing on this. After, I’ll talk to my agent and whatnot, we’ll decide.
JH: When I was growing up, a lot of my friends weren’t really fans of how the Spurs played. They won a lot of games, but they were very defensive-oriented and they were kind of slower. What did you think of their style of play when you were growing up?
CJ: My dad taught me since I was young, it’s better locking a person up to zero points than you scoring 50 points. Defense has always been installed in me, since I was very young. So I liked the way they played, especially defensively. They play all together, they’re unselfish and I feel like I’m an unselfish player, so I love it.
JH: Some people in San Antonio might not know that you come from such a basketball family. Could you talk about how your family impacted your development?
CJ: They did a lot. My dad coached here in Toronto. He still coaches right now, he played in Calgary and in Toronto here. My mom, exact same thing, my brother — I got a brother who goes to Oregon right now, about to play his senior year. I got a cousin that goes to Syracuse, he’s about to play his senior year. So I got a whole bunch, I got another cousin, he’s my cousin’s brother, so…
JH: They’re everywhere!
CJ: They’re everywhere, they’re playing basketball everywhere.
JH: Who are you most looking forward to playing with once you get [to San Antonio]?
CJ: Obviously Tony Parker because he’s a point guard. I’m looking forward to just learning, looking forward for him to take me under his wing and hopefully he will. Just learn, get better every day, playing against him, I’m looking forward to it. Obviously Manu and Tim — Tim, arguably one of the best power forwards to ever play the game, of course. But I’m looking forward to playing with everybody, the whole team.
JH: You said before the draft and even after the draft that strength was the one thing that you really wanted to work on this summer – how has that gone so far?
CJ: I’ve been getting stronger, I can feel it already; I’ve been in the weight room every day. Right now with Team Canada we do some weight room stuff, so it’s going good.
JH: You’ve got Andy [Rautins] on the team, you’ve got Joel [Anthony] on the team – what kind of advice have they given you about just making the transition to the next level?
CJ: They’re just saying when they got into the league, it’s no joke. You’ve gotta put time in the gym and whatnot. Obviously I already put the time in the gym and whatnot, but just stay in the gym and you’ll get your chance and just basically just stay ready to play and just play hard every day. Try to learn, try to go in there and listen to the veterans and just learn every day. That’s what I’m going to try to do when I get in there.
JH: One thing that people might not know about you is that you’re a big soccer guy. Could you tell me one other surprising thing about you that Spurs fans might not know?
CJ: Well that was one big one, a soccer fan. The other one, I’m a big movie fan. I love to go out to the movies, so maybe in San Antonio a couple people will catch me at the movies.
JH: Say I was a Spurs season ticket holder and maybe I didn’t see you play that much last year, what would you say I should expect from you next season?
CJ: Basically I’m a winner. I love to win, I take pride in my defense, as the organization does, the ballclub does. And I’m an unselfish player, like everybody on the team, so I think I fit right in. And I just go in there, I try to do whatever Coach Popovich wants me to do, and play 110%.
JH: What are your goals for next year, if there is a season?
CJ: Just to get better. I mean guys have goals to get to the rookie game and all that stuff, but my goal is just to get better. I’m just trying to get in the gym every day and just get better and when I get better hopefully those things will fall in place.