SAN ANTONIO — On Tuesday, former Great Falls CMR star Josh Huestis signed a contract with the San Antonio Spurs. MTN Sports caught up with the fifth-year pro to chat about his new NBA home, recovering from injury, and what four years as a pro basketball player has taught him about life.
MTN Sports: In the early parts of free agency, you told us you wanted to find a place that could contend for championships, that has a legacy of success, and that is stable. The Spurs are the picture of consistency in the NBA. Is this the perfect landing spot for you?
Josh Huestis: “I really feel like it is. When you think about success and excellence, the first team that comes to mind is the Spurs. They haven’t missed the playoffs since 1997. They’re consistent, and they found that winning formula to be able to compete every single year. I think the way that they play, the way they do things around here, it fits me perfectly on and off the court.”
MTN Sports: It starts with head coach Gregg Popovich, I would imagine. Is he the same surly guy we see on TV, or does he have a lighter touch on the court and in practice?
Huestis: “He can be pretty rough on guys during games, but outside of that he’s a great guy. He’s obviously super knowledgeable about the game, but he’s somebody that knows how to connect with players and is very personable, and he’s just a good guy to be around. He takes care of people and you can tell he genuinely cares about everyone that’s part of the organization.”
MTN Sports: How about your new teammates. What’s your impression of them been through summer workouts and training camp?
Huestis: “They’re all great. Everyone in the organization is amazing, all the players are great guys. That kind of speaks to the organization that the Spurs are. All the guys they have here, everyone is bought in to the same goal of winning a championship and everyone is a top-notch character person and they’re just fun to be around. Everyone gets along really well, it’s a really good atmosphere.”
MTN Sports: You mentioned you had a Jones fracture in your right foot. How did the injury happen, and what’s the timetable for recovery and return to the court?
Huestis: “I was down here in San Antonio playing and just happened to come down on my foot wrong and broke it. It was really unfortunate, a really tough time because I was playing really well and I was really hopeful, but it is what it is. The timetable is not ideal, but I’m about a month post-surgery. If everything keeps progressing how it should, my goal is to be able to be back healthy and ready to go by mid-to-late December.”
MTN Sports: Do you have a boot on?
Huestis: “I do, I have a boot on and crutches, the whole works. I’m just hobbling around. (Wife) Haley is taking care of me.”
MTN Sports: You need to train your bulldog, Boss, how to fetch things for you. Put him to work.
Huestis: “He’s impossible, man (laughs). He’s impossible. He makes my life a little harder on these crutches. I can’t catch him, and he’s slow, so that’s saying something.”
MTN Sports: I know you must be grateful the Spurs still gave you a shot after the injury.
Huestis: “It speaks volumes. When the injury happened I was really unsure what was going to happen for me. It’s not a short recovery time by any means — three months. It’s tough, but they see something in me, they put faith in me. Just the fact that they’re giving me this opportunity to still be a part of the organization and work my way back and come back even better than I was, it says a lot. They obviously see some potential in me to be able to help them, and that makes me really happy and really excited.”
MTN Sports: My understanding of this Exhibit 10 contract is, if you’re not on the opening-day roster, you’re guaranteed a spot on their G-League team (the Austin Spurs), almost like a two-way player. How is this deal structured?
Huestis: “It basically gives them the option to kind of do what they want, I guess you could say. Whether they assign me to a full roster spot or whether I end up in Austin playing for their G-League team, it gives them options. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen yet, but regardless, as long as I’m part of this organization and can work my way back post injury, I know that once I’m healthy that I’ll be able to get back to my old self and even be better. It wasn’t the path I thought was going to happen this summer, but it is what it is and I’m excited to work my way back and prove myself again.”
MTN Sports: Have you and Haley already relocated to Texas?
Huestis: “Yeah, we’re in San Antonio now. We’re in an Airbnb at the moment, it’s like the fourth place we’ve lived this summer. It’s been kind of crazy, but it’s exciting. Anytime you can end up in a new place, there’s a lot of excitement and hope and meeting new people and experiencing new things. We love the city of San Antonio so far, and we’re excited to be able to plant some roots here for hopefully a long time.”
MTN Sports: What’s the River Walk like?
Huestis: “It’s really nice. It’s a cool place, a lot of people always walking around. A lot of great restaurants and bars, and I would definitely recommend people visit San Antonio for that reason. Come check out the River Walk and there’s a lot of cool places to go visit. It’s a lot of fun, I like it here.”
MTN Sports: Wednesday is Mental Health Awareness day. I know it’s an important topic for you. What’s your message to people regarding mental health?
Huestis: “Going through what I’ve gone through in the past month with my injury with things like that, obviously it’s a setback for me and something that I’ve been focusing on that I think would benefit a lot of people who feel like they’re kind of stuck in a rut or not progressing, is to focus on each day, trying to be just a little bit better than you were yesterday. Only compare yourself to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others and their path, everybody is different. As long as you can wake up each day and know that you’re going to be better that day than you were yesterday, I think that’s the most important thing you can do. Whether you move an inch forward each day or a mile, as long as you’re moving forward in life, I think that’s the most important thing you can do.”
MTN Sports: From the moment you were drafted in 2014 to where you’re at now, how much perspective have you gained from four years as a pro, four years as an adult? And has that helped you handle some of these uncertain situations like waiting for a contract and dealing with an injury?
Huestis: “It’s night and day. When I first came into the league I was a very insecure, scared kid that really had no idea who he was, had no idea what I was doing. And now, you know, I’ve learned so much about myself. I’m not saying I know everything about myself, but I definitely have more confidence in who I am and I’m definitely more secure in myself as a person, and I think having that perspective and even though I suffered an injury, to be able to still be secure in who I am and being able to look at myself outside of basketball and be happy with who I am, is monumental. Because without that, this injury would have been more devastating to me, and would have been even harder to come back from.”