Who is Juan Toscano? Profile of the first Mexican in the NBA Finals
Because the National Basketball Association has had the presence of tricolor players: since 1996 when Horacio Llamas from Sinaloa came out on the court with the Phoenix Sunsthe durability of Eduardo Nájera with the shirts of the Dallas Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors themselves, the Denver Nuggets, the New Jersey Nets and the Charlotte Bobcats, as well as the adventures of Gustavo Ayón (New Orleans Pelicans , Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks) and Jorge Gutiérrez (Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Charlotte Hornets), Mexican basketball takes an important step and Juan Toscano opens a door that seemed distant years ago.
From Michoacán to the world
The best way to understand the history of Juan Toscano is through his roots. The Toscano family has its origins in Chavinda, a municipality in northwestern Michoacán, 151 kilometers southeast of Guadalajara, past Lake Chapala.
In the seventies, his maternal grandfather decided that the family would undertake the search for the American dream, so they traveled to California, the state with the largest Mexican presence in the entire United States. It was thus that her mother settled in Oakland and met her father, a Puerto Rican who, like her, found in North America a country where he could seek better life opportunities.
Juan was born on April 10, 1993 in East Oakland, a city known for its high crime rate, but also for its sport as a showcase. The city of the Major League Athletics, former home of the Raiders (1962-1981 and 1995-2019) was the environment where Juan grew up, who even seems to be closely linked to the Warriors for practically all his life.
The Golden State team does not represent just one city, but two: the Warriors played for many years in Oakland’s Orange Arena. This arena, located at 7000 Coliseum Way, is 10 minutes from 95th Avenue, the street where Juan Toscano spent much of his life and even attended Warriors clinics as a child. That yes, far from being interested in soccer, Toscano opted for basketball, strongly influenced by those approaches with the team, which for years had not lived good times like today.
Mexico opened its doors
It was not easy to get to where he is today. Even though he had bright spots in school and played at Marquette University (Wisconsin), he didn’t get enough attention from recruiters and was passed over in the 2015 Draft. “I didn’t even watch the Draft. Any. There was no interest. Honestly, basketball was over for me,” Toscano acknowledged in 2021, during a talk with Marc J. Spears from Andscape and who was rescued by the NBA portal in Mexico.
But while it seemed that the door to the Best Basketball in the World was closing, that of Mexico was opened. It was there that they looked for him from the Mexican team to represent them in international competitions, At the same time, a contract arrived to play with Soles de Mexicali in the LNBP, a situation that he gladly accepted.
It was thus that he had his first direct approach to his mother’s country, with which he fell completely in love. He played on the border between 2015 and 2016 and reached the Final, but lost to Pioneros de Quintana Roo. For the 2016 season, he was given the opportunity to play with Fuerza Regia, where he exploded as a burst sport star in Mexico and was even part of the team that was champion for the first time in 2017.
His high level both in the League and in the national team opened the doors for him in South America, playing with Bucaneros de La Guaira (Venezuela) and Obras Públicas (Argentina) before returning to Fuerza Regia and consolidating his identity with the country, to the point that He came to admit his love for teams like Tigres, a team he visited for training. He was also a key piece for a second title with Monterrey.
The NBA Dream
He couldn’t get to the National Basketball Association by way of the Draft, but Juan made his way through other places. In 2019, the forward had the opportunity to train with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the affiliate team of the Golden State Warriors and which belongs to the NBA G-League, the development league.
After a couple of weeks, Toscano made the cut and was part of the final roster, although he was about to decline the opportunity due to the monetary issue, since the 2 thousand dollars a month that he was offered (approximately 40 thousand pesos), they were not enough compared to other offers on the table.
“I wasn’t trying to regress financially. But my girlfriend pushed me. She told me to try it, that later we would see that she passed with the money, ”Toscano recalled in the conversation with Spears.
He spent a year in the G-League before Steve Kerr invited him to the Golden State Warriors, who needed men due to the injuries suffered by the Warriors in February 2020.0, although he played little due to the pandemic stoppage as the Warriors failed to qualify for the bubble in Orlando.
On February 9, 2020, he debuted in the League with number 95, in honor of the street he grew up on in Oakland and which is, in turn, the highest number used in Golden State. “I looked at my phone, I went to the Warriors page and I was like, Wow, I’m really into the Warriors! Sometimes it seems like it’s just something that had to happen.”
For the 2020-2021 season, Juan failed to make the Golden State roster, but was given the opportunity with a two-way contract. His quality opened the doors of the NBA for him: on May 13, Toscano signed a two-year contract with the Warriors, earning him a place with Steve Kerr’s men. Today the Warriors are in the Finals and the Mexican, who has seen activity in the last minutes of the game, will live a Mexican dream in the NBA.