Tyler Larson is the first EuroMillions MVP of the Month of this season. In October, he had an average index of 25.7 and he leads the MVP-ranking. Just before the opening game of round 7 against Telenet Giants Antwerp, we could have a small talk with Tyler Larson, also called Typod.
Where did you play basketball before you came to Liège?
First I spent two years in junior college in Wyoming. Usually people go there if they do not have good grades, but I did have good grades. Then I went to South Dakota University where I had a really good time. I had some bumps and bruises but it all turned out for the best. I had a good senior year and then I became professional. My rookie year was in Latvia. Then I went to Hungary, Lithuania and back to Latvia. Last year I won the bronze medal over there. It means a lot over there.”
What is your greatest quality?
“Being a leader on the court. I want to get my team mates involved, myself, try to do everything. But also, being a leader when we are 10 points behind and being able to tell my team mates that the game is not over yet. That we got to stay focused and try to fight back. It’s not all about being a good shooter or a ball handler. I want to lift up my team mates.”
When Liège contacted you, did you know players in Belgium?
“I know Tre Demps. We grew up together in California and played in a team called AND 1. The good old days (starts laughing). Last year, when I played in Latvia, I played with D’Or Fischer, who played here with Bree.”
Which player and team were the toughest to play against in Belgium?
“I have not played against everybody yet, but so far, it is Ostend. How they play team defense, they seem like the are everywhere. But a player… I still have not faced a player that could stop me from doing what I wanted to do.”
Was it always your dream to become a professional basketball player?
“For sure. My mom always reminds me: ‘When you were younger, you told me that you are going to make it to the NBA, no matter what.’ And I always told her that if my oldest brother wouldn’t make it to the NBA, I surely would. Now, when I am older I realize that it was really hard to get to the NBA. (laughs)”
Does your mother and family come watch your games?
“My mother came watching a game once in Latvia. She also watches all the games live on the internet.” She is a little crazy with that. She is more like a scout. Even before we get the scouting report she already texted me to tell who I need to guard or play good defense on.”
Is she your biggest fan?
“Yes, she and my brothers are. Before the game, they always text me: ‘Good game, Tyler, lead your team’ or ‘Go, Tyler, nobody can guard you’, that’s very pleasant to read and it really keeps me motivated.”
Do you have a ritual before you start a game?
“I pray before the game. I am a very religious person. I also listen to music. Drake, Lil Wayne … And now I took a lap on French music. It already helped me to learn some words and full sentences, like ‘Bonjour, je m’appelle Tyler’. That music-listening gave me the nickname of Typod (laughs). I used to wear my headphones all the time in high school.”
Who is your idol?
“Kobe (Bryant) is my all-time favorite player. I’ve always loved and looked up to Kobe since I was younger because he played with such a madness and aggression. Now, since he retired, it is Russell Westbrook (OKC Thunder). No matter if he turns the ball over for 10 times, he will always play as hard as he can. I try to have that same mentalIty as they both have. Come out, lead the team and play hard. But my biggest idol is my eldest brother. He put the basketball in my hands, taught me how to shoot and he always told me to never let me take the ball from me.”
Who would you compare yourself with?
“That is going to be funny. My brothers and cousins think of I am a hybrid between Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook. I really look up to these guys and to what they have accomplished in the NBA. They have made it to where I want to be. Nobody can take the ball from Steph or Russ.”
Do you think Tyler Larson is overrated or underrated for the Belgian competition?
“(laughs) I think that I am where I am supposed to be. Where God wants me to be. He places me here for a reason. If I was good enough right now to play in the NBA, I would be. Just like I was meant to play in Latvia. I just try to compete with whoever is in front of me. No matter the team has lost or won every game. I always think that there is still a way to win.”
What is your dream for the future?
“To play on the highest level of basketball I can. That my family does not have to warn for anything. I want to set a foundation for them, for my kids, for my kids their kids. When I was younger, I really wanted to play in the NBA. But now, as I have gotten older, I see that things are not that simple as we want. You have to support people. That is my biggest dream. That I can keep on supporting people.”