Carlos Arroyo: "I knew my time would come"
Carlos Arroyo: Yes, I hope so. I’m doing everything possible to come back and be out there and help win games for the Jazz as soon as possible. It’s frustrating because the team is doing well and I want to be a part of it. But I’m happy for everybody who’s doing a good job. I didn’t want to start the season on the bench, but with this injury it’s out of my hands.
It’s been quite a whirlwind year for you. First you become the Jazz’s first new starting point guard in about 20 years. Then you average 5.0 assists and 12.6 points per game and then you lead Puerto Rico to a much-publicized victory over the United States. Have the past 12 months felt like a blur?
CA: Yeah, kind of. A lot of things have gone down, but it’s been so much fun. I was so proud to represent Puerto Rico and be part of that whole Olympic event. I met a lot of great people from around the globe and though we finished out of medal competition I think Puerto Rican basketball made some history this summer.
Puerto Rico played great ball and then Argentina wound up winning the gold medal. Do you think Latin American basketball will finally get the respect it deserves?
CA: I think so. We were on the map before, but the way Argentina won really made great strides in pushing the whole Latin American region to the forefront of basketball. They showed that the Latin American people can represent basketball very well. It means a lot to all Latinos that Argentina won such a major tournament. We know that when we play outside of our countries that the whole world is watching now.
You are one of six Puerto Ricans to have played in the NBA. Will we see more of your countrymen in the near future?
CA: Yes, this is just the start. I believe that basketball is the number one sport right now back at home and it’s going to be for a long time to come. Right now, we have three NBA players including myself. There are many great Puerto Ricans playing ball right now – including my twin brother Alberto, who plays professionally back home. That number will grow.
Prior to last season you had played off the bench with the Jazz and got some time in with Toronto and Denver. You were named starting point guard in training camp and on opening night you fired your first salvo by leading the team in scoring with a win over Portland. How important was it to just get that extended shot to show what you could do last year?
CA: It was very important. I was patient my first few years in the league and I assumed that if I was patient my time would come. I appreciate that Coach (Jerry) Sloan gave me a chance to show my talent. It’s never easy to come in and play the same position as a future Hall of Famer like John Stockton, but I learned a lot watching him play in 2002-03 and competing against him in practice. You couldn’t ask for a better mentor.
CA: I think it is good. Nobody takes anything for granted around here, but I worked hard for what I got and it’s the same for everybody here. We all want to play, but we want to win first. That’s why it’s fun to be here in Utah and carry on that great Jazz tradition.
AJ Hayes is a San Francisco-based sports writer and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com
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