Cleveland Cavaliers Forward Tristan Thompson Q & A

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Brampton native Tristan Thompson held a three-day (July 13th-15th) youth camp at Humber College North Campus in Toronto. The iSG (International Sporting Group) –organized camp saw Thompson and a group of coaches teach 100 GTA kids aged 6-14 the fundamentals of basketball. The Cleveland Cavalier spoke to On Point’s Charles Vanegas (@charlesvanegas) about playing beside LeBron James and how he feels about fellow Canadian Cory Joseph joining the hometown Toronto Raptors.

Tell us a bit about the camp, what’s different in year two?

Last year I held it at Brampton soccer centre. This year I wanted to bring it a little bit closer to the city, to give kids all over the city a chance to come in and really just learn the fundamentals of the game… At this camp I really stressed that I want kids to take some of the fundamentals that they learned here back to their teams, their middle school team, their AAU teams.

Having your own camp, does coaching ever cross your mind?

I haven’t made a decision yet — that’s a long ways away! Who knows, I definitely want to be a part of the game in some capacity when I’m done playing, whether that’s as a coach, a GM, a part-owner, analytics guy or commentating; I want to be a part of the game somehow, in some way.

How long have you been in the city?

I’ve been here for a couple weeks. I always try to come back right after the season just to see my family, see my friends that I’m not able to see during the season just because of the crazy schedule. But I love coming home and spending time.

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What’s it like to see a guy like Cory Joseph, that you came up with in AAU ball, in the league with you?

First of all, we’re lucky. Not too many people get to play with one of their closest friends and both be able to make it to the NBA. There’s only a few stories like that. Cory’s been working his tail off ever since I’ve known him. He’s one of the hardest-working guys that I know. So him having the opportunity to make it to the NBA is a huge accomplishment.

And another huge accomplishment was him joining the Raptors. I think that’s great for basketball. That’s great for our country, our city. It’s a great story — a kid being able to come back to his hometown. He understands the responsibility, and he accepts it. And he knows he’s got to pick it up even more now.

I’m sure everyone asks you, but what has playing alongside LeBron done for you personally?

Playing with a great player like that… he just makes the game easier. He tries to keep it as simple as possible and really just tells you what he expects from you. I think that’s great when your leader can just tell you what he expects from you, exactly, and that’s what he’s going to hold you accountable for. For me, it’s just playing hard every night, every possession. That’s my job. That’s what he wants from me. For me as a young guy, it’s great to have your leader plain and simple tell you what he expects.

You’ve gone from being a lottery team to being the team that everyone wants to be. What’s it like now knowing that people are gunning for you every single day?

You get every team’s best punch every night. When they’re looking at their schedule in September, they’re licking their chops for their date with the Cavaliers. Before guys might’ve taken nights off when they saw the Cavs, but now when they see us come into the arena, they want to prove that “hey, we can compete with you guys.”

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It’s impossible to pay attention to sports media without seeing the Cavs. How much do you pay attention to that?

I don’t even read the media; it’s just really not my thing. At the end of the day, I’m a basketball player. I stay in my lane. I let the media take care of themselves. I know you guys have to do what you have to do to keep food on the table the same as we do. We come out every night and play hard; you guys have to report on stuff. Obvious the media attention is more when you play with LeBron, and rightfully so. He’s the best player on the planet. I expect it to be even more enhanced, but at the same time, we’re not worried about that.

What was it like to not only have your first shot in the playoffs, but an actual crack at the title?

A year can change a lot — let’s put it like that. Last year at this time, we were non-contenders. We were a draft lottery team with the number one pick. But with the acquisitions and trade during the season, we got to the finals. I’m definitely blessed and humbled to a part of that run, but at the same time, we have unfinished business. We got to the finals, that’s good and that’s great, but no one remembers second place.

Written by Charles Vanegas

Photos by Charles Vanegas

Edited by Drew Ebanks