Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has sponsored the VanVleet Court at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, Ill. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Raptors’ VanVleet “humbled” by chance to give back to basketball in Rockford

TORONTO — Fred VanVleet is giving back to basketball in his hometown of Rockford, Ill.

The Toronto Raptors guard has sponsored the VanVleet Court at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, but in fitting fashion barely paused from his early-season grind to celebrate the court’s unveiling last week.

“It’s hard to put into words,” VanVleet said after Monday’s practice. ”I’m just rolling through this thing. I come to work every day, I try to do my job, I try to make an impact in the community, and so a lot of the stuff I do, I don’t really get time to contemplate or reflect on what it really means.”

Chicago’s G League team, the Windy City Bulls, played the Wisconsin Herd on Friday on the floor that features VanVleet’s red brand logo at centre court. Rockford is a city of about 150,000 people that’s a two-hour drive west of Chicago.

“I was actually surprised when the story came out because I had forgot about it. It was a deal that we’d done a few weeks ago, it was something we’d talked about all summer, and the deal, I wasn’t expecting it to happen so fast,” he said. “I guess I just lost track of the time.

“But just extremely proud, extremely humbled and grateful that my brand and what I mean to Rockford means something to other people, as well. Hopefully it’s something we can use as a foundation in the future.”

The popular Raptor hopes he can make a similar impact in Toronto eventually.

“That’s the goal. Obviously it’s easier where you’re from, and I’ve put more work in there, but that’s the goal is to have the same type of impact here in Toronto as well, and all throughout Canada,” VanVleet said. ”Just put my footprints down and reach back out. Basketball’s the easiest way to do that for me, so that would be cool.”

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