Terrence Ross has had an interesting first year in Toronto.
On the floor, it’s been hot and cold.
Off of it, it’s been cold.
While Ross has slowly been making the adjustment to fluctuating minutes and making more mistakes than he’s used to, it’s been learning how to deal with the snow in Toronto that has proven to be one of the biggest challenges for the Portland. After bringing the NBA Slam Dunk Contest trophy back to Toronto while getting love from Drake, Vince Carter and everyone in between, Ross sat down with Sportsnet.ca to talk about the life of an NBA rookie.
Sportsnet.ca: What do people not know about life in the NBA?
Ross: “It’s tough. You’re doing a lot of stuff, you’re always busy, tired. I’ve never been fatigued like this ever. It’s wearing on me. We’re right there, it’s motivation to finish things out on a high note. Go out with our pride still. I think it’s just a mental thing, but at the same time it’s a physical thing too.
Sportsnet.ca: When you talk about fatigue, is it physical, mental or a combination of both?
Ross: My brain is fine, I can still go and know I have to work out and this and that, but when you actually get there, get to the gym you’re fighting fatigue and you feel it. It’s motivation at the same time, to keep fighting.
Sportsnet.ca: When are you getting to the gym? What time do you come in to get your extra work in?
Ross: I usually get on the floor an hour and a half before we start practice in the morning. Work out with JT — John Townsend. We go through a whole routine, about 45-50 minutes. After that I go lift weights and then I come back after we finish and get some more shots up and free throws. Then I usually come back in around 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock and do some shooting stuff. Then do it all again tomorrow, when it’s not a game day.
Sportsnet.ca: Are you a napper in between practice and your evening session?
Ross: Yeah, for a long time. I get home around 2:30 wake up around 6:00. And then come back to the gym. It’s crazy. It feels like the days go by so fast.
Sportsnet.ca: Let’s talk about your teammates. Who has given you the most advice or helped the transition into the NBA?
Ross: I would say Dominic McGuire. He’s not here anymore, but he helped me a lot. Alan Anderson and Amir Johnson. John Lucas, Kyle (Lowry). I think the guys that really helped me were probably Alan, (Mickael Pietrus), and Dominic. They really helped me understand what you’re supposed to do, how the coaches want to see you do it. Just understanding how the league works. I think it’s been them three.
Sportsnet.ca: What is the biggest way that playing in league is different than high school or college, besides the talent level?
Ross: In high school you’re really just playing. The talent level kind of just puts you in certain predicaments to get you to the next level. College there’s a little more networking, but you’re probably still getting by on talent. Here you have to figure out how to distinguish yourself from other players and have to learn how to establish yourself here. That’s the biggest thing. Find your niche, figure out how to do it well and you’ll be here for a while.
Sportsnet.ca: What was the best advice any of the teammates you’d mentioned earlier have given?
Ross: Just play your game. You’re here for a reason. They don’t want to see you doing anything different. They want to see you doing what you do. Never lose confidence and play your best.
Sportsnet.ca: Who has been the toughest opponent for you to guard this season?
Ross: Dwyane Wade or Ray Allen. You can’t really slip up because you really pay for it because he (Ray) makes all of those shots. His IQ and his talent level work so well together. Some guys you can kind of mess up, with Dwyane if you mess up you’re going to pay for it in a big way. You cannot take your eyes off of Dwyane. Everything that could go wrong when you’re guarding him, if you’re not paying will. I think that’s the hardest thing.
Sportsnet.ca: You recently said that watching Kobe Bryant play basketball makes you think that he has a cheat code to the game. What is it like to share the floor with a player you’ve admired like that?
Ross: Honestly it just motivates you to work harder, to get at least as close as you can to that level. Putting in that work, it motivates you. Seeing what he can do on the court and you know you can do the same thing as long as you keep working. It’s fun to watch. But at the same time it’s like, ‘Man.’ It just gives you motivation to work.
Sportsnet.ca: How hard is it to find a rhythm when your minutes fluctuate from game to game?
Ross: I think that’s the hardest part. It’s like some games, it’s hard when you’re sitting watching the game for two hours then they tell you to go out there and perform and you only get five minutes to do it. It’s tough. Then some games you get to feel your way more. I think it’s just if you’re not messing up on defence, you can help yourself out a lot. That’s what I’m trying to do. Focus on defence. Not even worry about the offensive part. That’ll come naturally.
Sportsnet.ca: Would you say the defensive end of the floor has been the hardest thing to learn?
Ross: Yeah, just because everybody can score. You’re playing so many different teams, there’s a lot of guys different tendencies. They’ve got different rotations, just like we do. It’s a lot of guys playing. It could be you could be playing one guy from the same team in LA, play them again, and it’s another guy. You’ve got to really learn everybody and understand who you’re playing.
Sportsnet.ca: What is the highlight of your season, individually?
Ross: Dunk contest, All-Star Weekend.
Sportsnet.ca: Could you have imagined things unfolding the way that they did for you?
Ross: No. Honestly I didn’t even think I was really even going to do it. I kind of got pressured into doing it. I’m glad I did it. At the same time, I feel surprised myself. That I was able to win it. All the guys they had, all the props, everything. I had fun, though. It’s crazy. It’s a different lifestyle from college. It’s fun but at the same time you’ve got so much to focus on you’re not even going to really understand the type of moment it was until you have free time to relax and look back on it. Right now you’re so focused on the season everything else comes second.
Sportsnet.ca: How about rookie duties? How are the vets treating you?
Ross: They don’t really treat (Jonas Valanciunas) like a rookie because he played for a different professional league. They have me doing Starbucks runs and sometimes getting doughnuts, stuff. Only here. They ain’t call me from my apartment yet. Sometimes they tell me to get donuts in the morning. It hasn’t been too bad.
Sportsnet.ca: Has having two other rookies made this transition easier for you?
Ross: Yeah, I couldn’t imagine doing it by myself. I needed another rookie. Me and (Quincy Acy) really helped each other get through it. I talk to him all the time. We text every day.
Sportsnet.ca: What has been your favourite road city to visit?
Ross: Definitely Miami, LA. Anywhere that’s warm, really. I don’t like being in the cold weather. I feel like those two, they’re like really “city” cities. I’m familiar with both of those cities, so that’s why.
Sportsnet.ca: How have you been dealing with driving in the snow in Toronto?
Ross: The first car I had up here was a Challenger. I was trying to get home quick. They were like, ‘Just get on the highway. The highway is clear, you can drive as much as you want, you’ll be fine.’ It’s just getting out of the parking lot. My car hit like a massive snow clump. It was like nine or 10 cars behind me all honking their horns. Quincy had to come and put basically like a blanket under my tires so I could get traction. It was at the airport. Everybody trying to get home and I’m holding up the line. It was crazy. On the way home, Kyle, we’re on a overpass going over a bridge and it kind of leans a little bit and Kyle was trying to drive like there wasn’t any snow and you hit a wet spot and you start sliding down so his car got stuck. We’re all on the highway trying to push him. This is late at night. Early in the morning, two o’clock in the morning. Everybody here is just like this is normal. Man, me and Kyle had to basically push our cars into the garage there was so much snow. I’m not used to that at all.