By: Benjamin Cruz
On Monday, before all of the new stadium hoopla and Peter Guber making sex synonymous with the Warriors new home (weird), the Warriors held a very small, low-key event at their practice facility in Oakland. They had their first set of pre-draft workouts where a few fresh-faced kids began chasing their dream of making it into the NBA.
One of them was Jorge Gutierrez who played his college ball about 15 minutes away at Cal. Gutierrez met with the media on Monday after his workout with Golden State and showed a very human side often admitting to something that most professional athletes don’t admit to: nerves. “[It was] my first individual [workout], so I was pretty nervous” said the former Golden Bear. “It’s a different situation. It’s serious. It’s an NBA workout. It’s a different thing for me.”
Jorge’s journey to this point in his life has been anything but scripted. He came into the United States illegally when he was 15 where he began his quest to play basketball at the highest level. In 2008, he became coach Mike Montgomery’s first recruit after taking the job at Berkeley and now has a shot at making an NBA roster. Gutierrez is still in disbelief about that as proven when he was asked if he ever thought he’d be in this position. “Not at all. It wasn’t in my mind when I was at home [in Mexico]. All I wanted to do was improve myself” he started. “This is one of the biggest dreams for me. Hopefully I make it.”
In these specific workouts, Gutierrez was matched up with Oregon State guard and Oakland native, Jared Cunningham who was one of the other featured players (with all due respect to Olek Czyz) in this workout. “He’s a great player. I played against him for three years already [in college] so I always have fun playing against him.”
Known mainly for his defense and knowing that teams are always looking to upgrade on the defensive side of the ball, Gutierrez hopes to be able to bring that part of his game to any team, be it the Warriors or someone else. “I’m big on playing defense. I take pride in that.”
It would be something of a Cinderella story if Gutierrez were to make it to the NBA. Seeing him play a few times down at Cal, I didn’t think he possessed the quickness or athleticism to make it at the next level but he does have the defensive motor that separates him from other NBA prospects and has improved greatly all-around from his freshman year.
For the local Bay Area sports fans, it would be fantastic for the Warriors to take him as he would be a known face in these parts. Whatever happens, there are definitely people rooting for Jorge to just make it to the NBA. He hopes so too. “I’m big with chances. I think if a team gives me a chance, I’ll prove that I can play with anybody.”
Part one of his journey is just beginning. He’s got a long way to go, but the kid from Mexico doesn’t seem to have any quit in him which bodes well in his fight to make it to the grandest stage of them all.