Anderson Varejao: "I still don't know if I will enter the draft"
In a soccer country like Brazil, why did you start playing basketball?
Anderson Varejao: It was because of my brother. He played in Sao Paulo and then went to play college ball in the States, so that was one thing. The other thing was my height. I started playing soccer, but then I grew up a lot and focused on basketball.
Were you good at soccer?
AV: Yes, yes. Very good [laughs]. But then I started to grow up and lost agility. So that was it.
How was the transition to the more physical European basketball coming from Brazil, where they don't play much defense?
AV: I was very afraid to leave Brazil in the first place. But then I realized that it was the best thing to do. I knew playing for such an important team like Barcelona could only help my career. As for the differences between basketball in Brazil and Europe... Well, in Brazil there are no systems. I mean, there are systems, but not like in Europe. It's a much more anarchic game.
You said you were afraid to leave Brazil. Why?
AV: Because I was very young and I had no international experience. I was going to live on my own for the first time and I had to learn a new language. My father was with me for the first three months in Barcelona. But then he left and I'm fine now.
You only play 3-4 games per month [Varejao can only take part in Euroleague games with his club, Gasol's FC Barcelona], how are you handling that?
AV: I knew this was going to happen, so I take it easy. The problem is that when I play I notice that I lack rhythm of play and sometimes I'm not totally ready. It's like there is something missing. But I'm handling it well.
Do you think this could affect your stock in the draft?
AV: I feel it's difficult to remain in a high position in the draft playing so little. They don't watch me play and... But I'm not thinking much about that right now. I'm just waiting to get the passport [there is a limit of foreigner players in the Spanish League and that's why Anderson can't take part in most games] so that I can play more often.
Last year you applied for early entry into the draft, but finally decided to withdraw. Why?
AV: I thought I was still not ready. I put my name there just for my name to appear -- so that it starts to sound familiar. I finally withdrew under the advice of my agents and family. They also thought it was the best thing to do.
Would you have stayed if you had any guarantee that you would be taken in the first-round?
AV: I was in the first-round. But I had two years left of eligibility that I could use to keep on improving and get a higher position.
What are you going to do this year?
AV: This year? I still don't know. It will all depend on what my agents and family say.
And what are they saying now?
AV: They are not saying anything about that.
What is your contract situation with FC Barcelona? Do you have to pay them any money in order to leave for the NBA?
AV: Yes, I'll have to pay a "fine" in case I go.
Do you know how much?
AV: No, no, I don't know.
What do you think you have to improve in your game in order to have a successful career in the NBA?
AV: I know NBA basketball is much faster. It's about running and stuff like that. And that's OK with me. I run and I can do all the things they do there. I just have to improve my shooting and some fundamentals.
Which NBA player do you think you resemble the most?
AV: I don't know. I don't follow the NBA much.
Apart from the nationality, what do you have in common with Nenê?
AV: Well, I think he is player whose area of influence is the paint. I have more of a perimeter game. The dunks... Maybe that's where we are similar at.
When you played against each other in Brazil, who used to win?
AV: We played just a couple of times. I think he was the best once and I won the other one.
Do you stay in touch with him?
AV: Yes, he's my friend. We speak sometimes through the Internet or via phone.
What does he tell you about the NBA?
AV: He tells me it's not as difficult as it seems. And he tells me the structure and all the things around basketball are great -- much better than in Brazil.
Do you like any team in special?
AV: No, not really.
So you don't mind as long as there is good weather, right? What about joining Nene in Denver?
AV: What's the weather like there?
It can be cold sometimes.
AV: Ooh. Well, it doesn't matter. I have no preference as long as I go to a place in which I agree with the conditions they offer me.
Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com
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