LOS ANGELES – Jarred Vanderbilt will make his debut for the Lakers on Saturday against his hometown team, the Houston Rockets. Vanderbilt was sidelined for the first 20 games of the season by left heel bursitis. I caught up with Vanderbilt at his community event ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday where he teamed up with Hart House to provide meals for children from the Boys and Girls Club of Foothills.
“Honestly, I just wanted to do something in L.A.,” Vanderbilt told The Sporting Tribune. “I do a lot of community work back home in Texas so being able to be here in LA, I just wanted to be able to do something for the community.”
Check out the full interview:
The Sporing Tribune: How would you say the Los Angeles community has embraced you and how has it been acclimating to the LA scene?
Jarred Vanderbilt: It’s been great. They’ve embraced me since day one. I’ve felt the love since day one. It’s a strong fan base, but also community as well. Just being a part of that community and being able to give back to this community and show face in the community it’s been a good experience so it’s been great.
TST: The topic of conversation has been the injury and not being available to play. How have you seen your teammates rally behind you?
JV: It’s been great. They’ve been supportive and pushing me to take my time and get healthy. It’s going to be a long season for us for the goal that we have in mind. The biggest thing for me was getting that situated so that when it’s later on in the season and the playoffs and stuff like that, everybody will be healthy. It’s just a testimony to our team and the chemistry that we’ve built.
TST: What are some of the intangibles that you are bringing to the team while you were sidelined by your injury?
JV: Being able to just give them my perspective as a player and from the sideline and just kind of coaching them from afar. Even the young guys like Max [Christie] or even Cam [Reddish]. Taking over that new role of being a defensive guy just giving them pointers and also just being present. Still being around the team, going to every practice, team meetings, games. Just even building that chemistry off the court, it’ll translate when I get on the court so just being around.
TST: Where do you draw your influence from with your fashion sense?
JV: It’s not really an influence. I kind of have just always been inspired by clothes, fashion since I was young. Just being able to be creative and express my personality through clothes, it’s always just been a thing for me.
TST: The Lakers have played Houston twice, being from Houston is there any team that you have circled on the calendar for wanting to return from injury?
JV: There’s no team in particular. For me personally, I have every game circled. I treat every game the same way, so I couldn’t say it’s one team in particular. It’s pretty much everybody.
The Lakers will be the healthiest the team has been since the start of the season with Rui Hachimura (nasal fracture) returning along with Jaxson Hayes and Cam Reddish listed as probable for the Saturday night contest versus the Rockets.