Within a crowded local Wing Stop, Kyle Anderson smiles at the gathered Spurs fans. Over 250+ San Antonio supporters approach him, and he happily scribbles his autograph on their souvenirs. Nearby, fascinated restaurant employees peer through the glass that separates the bustling restaurant kitchen from the dining area; some venture out from their cooking responsibilities and quickly get their work caps signed, returning to their duties as they excitedly brandish new pieces of NBA memorabilia.
One particular fan captures Anderson’s attention. Kayla Janson – a girl confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak – plays a message typed on an iPad, requesting Anderson’s presence at her 16th birthday party. The invitation ends with “and bring Tony Parker too”; he happily accepts as her mother hands him an envelope with the celebration’s information.
“That’s awesome,” Anderson said. “Of course, you see it out there on the court. They show their love for us, and for the game. But, for them to actually take their time out and come here, and just to meet me… that means a lot to me, really.”
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Anderson – dubbed “Slo-Mo” for his deliberately methodic style of play – fits in a Spurs system that ranks 24th in PACE this season. After being drafted as the 30th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Anderson spent most of his rookie season in the development league learning the discipline of the silver-and-black culture.
Now – in his sophomore season – Anderson’s role with the Spurs has expanded considerably, starting in eight games, competing in 64 (nearly double the 33 games he played last season), and averaging career highs in all statistical categories. The fans have noticed, and were quick to offer their encouragement to a member of the number one ranked bench in the league.
“These people show so much support throughout the season,” Anderson said. “I think it’s only right we spend a few hours of our days to come and meet them.”
As the line dies down, and Anderson bids his goodbyes, he slips the girl’s invitation deep into his pocket.