Juan Toscano-Anderson On Being the Lakers’ First Black-Mexican Player

Juan Toscano-Anderson On Being the Lakers' First Black-Mexican Player

An Oakland native and a fierce competitor, Juan Toscano-Anderson was beloved by the Bay Area and the Warriors fanbase. From playing in the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors to winning a championship in 2022 with Golden State, JTA became known for his heart, tenacity, and character.

After winning the chip, the veteran forward draped himself in a Mexican flag, proudly honoring his Mexican heritage. 

Toscano-Anderson broke many Warriors fans’ hearts after he decided to sign with the Lakers for the 2022-2023 season.

In five preseason games, he averaged 18.3 minutes, 5.0 points, 3.0 boards, and a whole lot of competitive fire in 18.3 minutes.

“Juan is doing some amazing, competitive basketball-playing,” Lakers Coach Darvin Ham said, per Andscape. “You need those kinds of guys that can get you 50-50 balls, take charges, and put bodies on bodies knowing that they may not be the one who gets the rebound or stat or whatever.”

“They still sacrifice for their teammates. You can’t have enough of those guys in your locker room. And Juan Toscano-Anderson is at the top of the list of everything he does. His attitude, [the] energy [he] brings to work every day. His teammates are very fond of him.”

Not only does JTA’s character shine on the court and in the locker room, but he is trailblazing a path for Mexico and basketball. 

“Things don’t happen overnight,” Toscano-Anderson said. “Basketball is a growing sport in Mexico, there; there’s a lot of financial interest in it — I know there are guys that can do it for me, but it’s a different world now in regard to marketing and advertising. I’m opening doors to bridge the gap between the U.S. and Mexico.”

Toscano-Anderson is the first Laker of Mexican descent. For a city that is 75 percent ethnically Mexican, is populated by over five million Mexicans, and has the largest Hispanic, JTA’s arrival is momentous. While the Lakers have aired Spanish-speaking broadcasts since 1993, the franchise has not had a Spanish-speaking player since Kobe Bryant retired in 2016.

Although he was not Hispanic, Bryant energetically embraced the Mexican community in Los Angeles.

“If there was a guy that understood the love, the passion, the loyalty of the Hispanic community, especially towards the Lakers, it was Kobe.” former Lakers Spanish television announcer Adrian Garcia Marquez said. 

Being the first Spanish-speaking player since Kobe and being half-Mexican, JTA can connect to L.A’s Hispanic and Latino roots.

“There are probably more Mexicans watching the Lakers than any other demographic. That’s very important, not only for myself in the Lakers, but in L.A. for [the] Mexican community, the Latino community,” Toscano-Anderson said. “I don’t want to call myself an ambassador, but somebody who’s representing and who can speak the language. I’m representing full throttle. I can speak the language; I represent my culture, everything.”

Toscano-Anderson is embracing the L.A. community, and the L.A. community is embracing him. Known for murals of Laker greats – Kobe, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, and more – the city recently added a Juan Toscano-Anderson mural. On the outside wall of a Mexican bakery, JTA dons a Lakers jersey with a Mexican flag wrapped around his shoulders, and Mexico City’s Tenochtitlán pyramids and downtown L.A. in the background.

“I went to the reveal of the mural. That was really dope,” Toscano-Anderson said. “I’m very appreciative of that. It’s LA, man, City of Champions. That was really cool. I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I didn’t have anything, nothing like that before. It was more than just the sports thing. It was about that community embracing me there.”

Born to an African American father and a Mexican mother, JTA wants to be a positive role model for both Mexican American and African American kids. 

“It’s been magnified that I’m Mexican, but I also want people to know that I’m just as proud of being Black.”

“I’m Black every day. The way I dress, the way I talk. My sauce. I’m a Black man when I step out on America — Black is beautiful; I’m proud of being Black as well. Being Black makes me who I am.”

For OakToscano-Anderson’s impact has not gone unnoticed ford, Los Angeles, and Mexico, Toscaommunity-oriented forward plays in his first game as a Los Angeles Laker tonight against the Golden State Warriors. The second NBA player of Mexican descent to win a title, Toscano-Anderson will be honored and receive his championship ring.

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