The NBA is filled with underdog stories, and the Golden State Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson's journey to the league is one such story. After going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, he played in the Mexican league, and worked on his skills. The 28-year-old Oakland native is now playing for his hometown team, Golden State Warriors, which he describes as a dream come true.
El Viaje: The Journey of Juan Toscano-Anderson" is a three-part docu-series by NBC Sports Bay Area that takes a deep dive into JTA's Mexican heritage and how his Oakland roots influenced his journey to the Golden State Warriors.
Juan Toscano-Anderson admitted in 'El Viaje' that he considered giving up on basketball for good. The idea of getting into the NBA, the world's most coveted basketball league, was far-fetched for him. So much so that he was giving interviews for tech-related jobs while playing in the SF Bay Area Pro-Am Summer Basketball League. He said in this regard:
"The NBA seemed so far-fetched to me...I didn’t have anybody knocking on my door. I didn’t have anybody calling me. I didn’t have my name on any mock drafts."
But who is Juan Toscano-Anderson? Most NBA fans outside the Bay Area wouldn't have heard of him. Commonly known as JTA, he gained a little recognition after a game against the Orlando Magic last season when he celebrated a three-pointer by Stephen Curry before the ball even left the latter's hands.
Juan Toscano-Anderson's life before the Golden State Warriors
Juan Toscano-Anderson's mother, Patricia, is a single mother of four who battled hardships for years.
She recalled some incredibly unfortunate stories when JTA was growing up, such as their house burning down when Toscano-Anderson was in third grade. However, she remained unfazed in the face of adversity, and did all she could to provide her children with a better life. Patricia said in this regard,
"We were houseless; we lived in a car, and from here and there to different places."
One day, she was called to a parent-teacher conference with JTA's teacher, Willhemina Attles, wife of Golden State Warriors legend Al Attles. She noticed that JTA was happiest when playing basketball in the schoolyard. She was well aware of the struggles the family was enduring, so she recommended that JTA gets enrolled in the Golden State Warriors youth camp. Soon enough, he fell in love with basketball.
Juan Toscano-Anderson takes immense pride in his hometown, Oakland, California. He mentioned that even if another team had offered him more money in the offseason, he would have rejected them, and still signed with the Golden State Warriors.
He didn't just say that to please the fans or the Warriors brass; he meant it. Back in 2018, Juan Toscano-Anderson was playing in LNBP, the Mexican basketball league, where he made great money.
He was an MVP and a two-time champion. Moises Cohen is one of the biggest agents in Europe, who has worked with the likes of Ivica Zubac, Dario Saric and the reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic. Cohen tried convincing JTA to play in Europe, but the player wanted another crack at the NBA and play for the Golden State Warriors.
Cohen recalled the conversation he had with JTA regarding the same, saying:
"I said, 'Look, the money is not the same. And the money, I believe, is much better for this moment.' But he said no...He wanted to play in the NBA; he wanted to play for the Golden State Warriors, and he will do anything to do it."
JTA played for the G-League team, Santa Cruz Warriors, for a year in 2019-20. Fast forward to 2021, Juan Toscano-Anderson is now a fan-favorite in the Bay Area. He recently signed a guaranteed contract with the Golden State Warriors after getting upgraded from a two-way deal.
The Golden State Warriors' preseason kicks off on October 4th, 2021, and Toscano-Anderson is expected to participate in those games.