Bosh and Calderon take their game to Spain
There is no more proud Spaniard than Jose Calderon, a man in love with his country, its people, its culture.
Speak to him for any length of time and that passion comes through. Watch him in the red and yellow jersey of his national basketball team and watch him be as happy as he can be. Engage him in conversation about his homeland and watch his eyes light up.
It is not far-fetched, then, to be listening to him on a scratchy telephone line from Spain this morning, talking about his camp for kids and a visit by Chris Bosh and to be able to almost hear him smile.
“It is really special, very special,” the Raptors point guard told thestar.com. “I want to help the kids learn and to show Chris my home, the people. It was a great time for us all.”
Calderon’s third annual camp – III Campus Calderón - Marca Extremadura – attracted more than 300 players ranging from 8-18 years old from across Spain. It also attracted a three-day visit by Bosh which wrapped up earlier this week and Calderon’s time as tour guide came to an end.
“It was very nice of him to come, he is a very good friend and I can show him my area,” said the 27-year-old who hails from Villanueva de la Serena. “I want everyone to know about Spain and where I come from, the people.”
Calderon holds a special place in the minds of young Spanish basketball players. He’s been a fixture on the national team for more than a decade – although he’s taking this summer off to work on his body for the grind of the coming NBA season – and he is wildly popular for his contributions to the game.
Two years ago, when the Raptors played a pre-season game in Madrid – about 900 kilometres from Calderon’s area – he was swamped with fans everywhere he went. The camp is much the same, a chance for the young players to get an up close and personal look at one of their idols.
“I want them to know that basketball the right way is important, about teamwork and everyone working together,” he said. “I tell them the best thing about it is the teamwork.
“For some of the little kids, this is their first time out of the home, we want to make sure they learn the right things.”
Calderon has a variety of business interest back home that he helps tend to during the summer, including a pig farm that produces some of the great ham that Spain is known for. He and his wife, Ana, try to spend as much time as possible back home each summer and this year, with no international basketball obligations, he’ll have more free time in Spain than he’s had in more than 10 years.
The week-long camp (“It’s hard work, I’m going to need a vacation,” he joked) is his major summer obligation. He’s planning little more than working out to make sure his leg and finger – both injured last season with the Raptors – are 100 per cent for training camp.
He’s had no trouble recovering from finger surgery he had just after the NBA season ended and the sore hamstring that limited him so severely most of the season is 100 per cent.
“Now it is to get ready for the season; I want to have a great year,” he said.
Tomorrow in the Star:
Read more about Jose Calderon and his summer spent getting ready for the 2009-10 NBA season.