The Toronto Raptors signed Tyler Hansbrough as a free agent this past summer to give Head Coach Dwane Casey’s lineup some needed toughness, but the stone-faced Hansbrough, who earned the nickname ‘Physco T’ in college, is a hard guy to get a read on during games. He is so focused and intense all of the time, it’s hard to tell if he loves or hates his new situation this season.
“Actually, I love Toronto,” Hansbrough enthusiastically responded. “I was telling one of my friends, it’s probably one of the best cities I have ever lived in. As far as the fans go, I like to see them all come out to the games, it’s an atmosphere in here every night, everybody really gets into it.”
The big man has been quietly selling the benefits of living in Toronto to his family and friends and even though basketball activities take up most of his time, he brings them up to his new city so they can see for themselves.
“I am bringing my friends and family up, they are so excited,” Hansbrough said. “They want to come up and explore Toronto because I have been telling them all about it and my Dad loved it.
“I enjoy the city; there is a lot of things to do. I enjoy going out and eating in nice restaurants. I have been doing that, but besides that, I don’t get out and do anything else much.
“The CN Tower, it was pretty cool. My Dad came up and we drove over to Niagara Falls for a little bit and he was telling me how cool that was.”
Known as a player who likes to mix things up and enjoys physicality, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hansbrough is a hockey fan and has been for some time. Don’t expect the burly Hansbrough to lace on skates and play, but he does like to watch.
“Obviously I don’t know much about hockey, but I enjoy watching it, Hansbrough said. “Multiple people have come up and told me that I have a hockey mentality which I enjoy, that’s the way I play and I embrace it.”
He started watching hockey in college, so Hansbrough was a Hurricanes fan first, but he has embraced the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
“Honestly, I was a Hurricanes fan from being down in North Carolina my freshman year in college and watching them,” Hansbrough said. “I love going to hockey games. Honestly, I love the physicality. I love people getting checked. I love how intense the players are. I came to a Leafs game and I love them.”
When Hansbrough signed with the Raptors, he was hoping for a larger role than he had with the Pacers, however, he is playing almost exactly the same amount of minutes as he did last year. It doesn’t matter though, Hansbrough loves Toronto. He likes what the organization is doing and he really does like the city and their fans. There is a lot of sincerity in the tone of Hansbrough’s desire to stay for the long term.
“When I first got here, I wanted this to be a good situation for me,” Hansbrough said. “I wanted to play well here and be here many years and that’s the way I see it. I didn’t sign with Toronto for the short term, I want it to be long term and be a part of this organization because I really like the city, the fans and everything about it.”
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“Right now it is kind of what I have to do,” Hansbrough said. “Obviously I am not playing larger minutes, so when I get on the court and opportunity presents itself, I just have to be ready to help the team. That is the way I am looking at it, so when I go in that is what I am doing.”
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“That is why I wanted to come here so bad, to be a big piece of the puzzle and ultimately help us as a team work to a goal,” Hansbrough said. “I feel like I could be a big part here.”