Is there one thing about the NBA that makes it preferable to coaching in college basketball?
I think honestly, in, n–with no disrespect to college basketball at all, that there’s a few things that agree with me a little bit more. I think the obvious stuff that people talk about is the, you know, it’s “just basketball.” There’s part of the “it’s just basketball” that makes me miss college, really. The, some of the mentorship component that you get with the students and the players.
And I think, to be honest, I think that’s becoming, you know, less impactful as kids are even more focused on the basketball side. I don’t know that kids are going to school right now saying, “Gosh, I’m, you know, I’m gonna go get a great education. Thank goodness I get basketball to help me get there.” I think people are really focused on the NBA.
So when you’re in the NBA, you get players that really, really wanna be there. And to have their attention, to have them kinda in the present like that, for a coach, you have a willing pupil, so to speak. And that part of it’s really fun. It’s a challenge.
And then, really, the players are just so good. I mean, it’s crazy. You think about these guys, they’re the elite of the elite. And if you can do something as a coach to help ‘em, you really can see the impact of what you work on in your profession.
How do you get players to buy into your system?
I’ve been a part of a new staff every year for, like, three, four years now, and this is the first time I’ve been part, really since the D-League, this is the first time I’ve been the head coach of that team, of that new staff…
I think the biggest thing is not to try to force it. That’s not really a great plan. You essentially do nothing. It, but it’s not, you know, it’s not nothing, obviously. It’s being, you know, being real, and understanding that, this, I’m gonna show you who I am, and then in time, you know, you can ask for them having some faith. You know, give me an opportunity here and see where it goes.
And I think more often that not, players are inclined to do that in the beginning anyway. But then it’s up to you, really, to do the things you’re gonna say and coach them with integrity. And if you make a mistake, ’cause you will, “Hey, I was wrong.” And by the same token, and when they make a mistake, you, you know, “Hey, you were wrong.” And I think it gradually just builds.
The other thing, I think, is credibility. You know, players, I think players, and especially players in the NBA, they know if you’re working, and they know if you’re prepared. So the sooner you get an opportunity to show them that and for them to see that, I think that some respect seeps in there and it’s easier to begin to try and have that belief and trust when there’s respect too.
So, that would be a little formula that, in my mind, co–you know, comes to the surface.
What did you take most from Larry Brown and Mike Krzyzewski?
I’ll throw coach [Gregg] Pop[ovich] in there too. When I got the job, those are three guys that I talked to, and really talked to coach Brown a lot more recently about putting a staff together. I think that, and talked to coach K and coach Pop about the same thing.
When you really boil down, right, you hear about coach K’s coming and being with Paul George in the, you know, the sympathy there that is very real. And you see the things that coach Pop is with his players. Just visibly, you know, the connections that they have.
And you see someone like me who, you know, [Indiana Pacers GM] Kevin Pritchard and I were laughing in the stands the other night about when we were working summer camp for coach Brown at Kansas, like, 20-some years ago.
I think those people all value those relationships in the business maybe more than they should, more than the wins and the losses. That they’d be content to just have that and you know, forgo maybe some of the success.
The irony, of course, is that with those, the success comes. And they’re all not doing it just ’cause they’re the nicest, sweetest men either. You know, they’re saying the hard things and doing tough things and driving people. And to be able to have that and have those relationships endure even when you’re, you know, you’re not just being somebody’s pal, it’s a pretty special thing. And clearly, those guys being great coaches, they have it.
First impressions of Dante Exum?
Well, he’s very, very good. You know, I think, it’s, the first time I saw Dante Exum play, I was in the airport getting a burger, waiting for a flight, and I looked up and Serbia was playing Australia in the Under-19s, and I was like, “Okay, this guy’s fast.”
And then the next time I saw him was on tape and he was still fast, and getting faster. And you know, that speed, that gear and kind of the ease with which he accelerates and plays the game is really, really unique.
And then you meet him, he’s just a quality young man. He’s, you know, the accent kind of adds a little mystique to his persona. And he’s, I think he’s a special kid. And he’s 18. You know, it’s, and you keep saying that almost to remind yourself, you know, as much as anything, not to have unrealistic expectations.
The interview ends with…
You’re gonna have me back? … I’ll be the regular if you need me. If you want me. I’m serious…If you put me on, we gotta monitor my time [so] I don’t talk too long. Dennis Lindsey, my GM, got pissed at me the other night. I was talking too long at a banquet or something, so you gotta help me with that. (CBS Sports)
Does Paul George’s injury give you pause?
You’re always worried. You’re always trying to anticipate what could happen. So we, really, when we’re trying to do our jobs, we research courts and basketball stanchions and we have a partnership with some students that do, that does injury tracking for us.
And who gets injured, and what month, and what type of player, and at what age, and all those drill-downs to try to mitigate things. But a good dose of luck on your side is always a good thing.
What’s happening with players between now and training camp?
The French team actually plays the Australian team, so we’ll be able to kill two birds with one stone. We have Isaiah Wright, our assistant strength and conditioning coach, that will soon go over and join Dante [Exum] and Rudy [Gobert] on that segment of the trip, kinda the friendly games, if you will, before the World Cup actually starts.
And, so, we’re just anxious, really, to track all of our guys. …
We’ve had individual coaches go out and touch players.* Enes Kanter does a lot of his preparations in Chicago, so Brad Jones and Alex Jensen had separate trips out there to work with Enes, with where he’s at in his rehab and basketball. We have, Antonio Lang has been in the south, and so he touched Derrick Favors today and Rodney Hood a couple days previous to that.*
And then we’ll take, eventually take a trip to P3. A lot of our guys have gone out in small groups, or individually, out to P3. Usually our strength and conditioning staff accompanies those guys…
And then we’ll get, after Labor Day, we’ll hit, what we call an open gym phase, where we start to invite our players back and we’ll also invite some non-Jazz contract players to see if those guys we wanna invite to training camp or future mini-camps or now, with Boise, the Idaho franchise, maybe they’re invitees for our club in Boise.
So, we’re trying to have multiple objectives, but the main thing is [to] get ‘em in shape, organize ‘em a little bit, and allow the relationships–many times us in management wanna get out of the way so the player-to-player and coach-to-player relationships can affor–form appropriately.
Are you looking to make any more roster moves?
Yeah, so we’ll look to do quite a few things at the end of the roster, whether it’s to add a third point guard, and at what level of guarantee would we wanna add a third point guard, and we’ll, we’re talking about all those candidates and different contract structures that gives us some certainty at the third point guard position, but maybe is a team-friendly contract, if you will.
So, we want to be very aggressive looking at, again, open gym candidates that could make for good training camp invitees…
We’re just trying to put our eggs together and see where we can best use our resources, and if it, it may work out where we’ll play underneath the salary cap, and the advantage in that is, is that there’s, the roles, the trade roles are very advantageous to us, and we can be in a position to, whether it’s add a good young player or accumulate assets by taking on a contra–an unwanted contract and picking up a [draft] pick, we’re in position to do both of those things, really.
On playing “connected” basketball
Look, it’s what we learned, what our parents taught us in the sandbox. You know, share your toys and you’ll make good friends. And if you don’t share, you’ll live a lonely existence. And it’s much like that in basketball.
We really wanna share, and how you do that, how you connect a team offensively, is really through the pass. It’s something that Quin [Snyder] believes, that I believe. And the programs that we were at before, sharing’s a big part of making a great team.
And then defensively, I think w–through communication, through effort, through stance, through body position, we wanna connect our effort. And Quin and I were just on a walk today, and we were talking about screens and getting screened. And if you really are disciplined and have great energy, you can avoid getting screened [on the] pick and roll.
And if you, once you get hit, ’cause you’re always going to get hit in this sport, if you then compete after the screen, and fight, then that allows, again, a defense to connect its effort.
And you don’t wanna have efforts on an island. You want to, really, the way the defense expands and contracts, really looks like a heartbeat. And if you have a really good, connected effort, it can mean a lot of good things for a group.
On playing with the pass
Playing with the pass is really something that Quin, as he teaches that, sells that, makes that a non-negotiable for our group, he’ll be the one that leads us in that direction.
And I’ll say this: It’s a hard way, what we’re asking guys to do is not the easiest way to teach, to coach, to quickly hit the ground running, if you will. But we believe in it. It’s gonna be ugly.
There’s gonna be some ugly pre-season games where you wish you would’ve just taken the first open [shot], to, instead of passing two or three times and having someone shoot the gap on the wrong read and go lay it up. So, there will be ugly moments within our teaching, you know, our flow offense.
But I would think as things start to take hold, the product will be something in February that our fans can really see some tangible growth in a way that fans wanna see basketball be played.
If Derrick Favors is your understated leader-by-example, who do you see growing into the vocal leader on the team?
I think Gordon [Hayward], it’s something that we’ve talked a great deal about with him. I think, there’s, he’s gonna have to get himself uncomfortable in some areas and really work at being present and being a leader, but I think he has some natural attributes.
I think Trey [Burke] has the ambition to want to lead. He’s gotta channel it in the right directions, and look, as a 21-year-old, that’s tough.
I think Rodney Hood, Rodney Hood was the first ever Duke transfer, in his first year named team captain by coach [Mike] K[rzyzewski]. I wouldn’t take that lightly. I think it speaks to his character and the way he goes about his approach to basketball.
I think Dante, in time, has some natural qualities in how he was raised and his ability to find words. Now, will he find that he’s a good spokesman for the club and he needs to, you know, follow that up with actions? Absolutely. I think he’s got strong character, but those, with Dante, are many years away. He’s going to have to prove himself to a group first. (1280)
In light of what happened with Paul George, how does it make you feel that Gordon Hayward is on that roster?
Well, it continues, that, you know, in sports, in life, unfortunately, you have to take the good, the bad with the good, and there’s a lotta good that comes from USA Basketball. And for Gordon to really have an opportunity to play with that caliber of ath–of basketball player and athletes, and to cut, to work on and be motivated to take his game up is a, really, a positive thing.*
The negative part of it is the potential impact that you could have in accidents like, unfortunately, it happened to Paul George. I mean, it just, a, that’s a tragic thing and you know, there’s insurance that’s taken out that helps those things, but still, you don’t replace a player like Paul George on your roster. It will have a direct impact on Indiana and their team, and it’s too bad, but you know, we hope that, you deal with those.
You know that it c–it’s a possibility, but you don’t also want to deprive your athletes with an opportunity for them to excel and to have an experience, a personal experience, to grow, and to compete on the international level like this. So you know, we have to plan for it and deal with it.
* Guess the Jazz aren’t worried about Hayward making friends with other players on Team USA and then wanting to play with his new friends after he’s gotten all of the Jazz’s money.
NBA franchises are the ones taking the risk when players play for their national teams…
They really are. I mean, the teams are the ones that take the ultimate risk on this, and it’s something I think that we will continue to talk about in the Board of Governors meetings, on how do you try to at least mitigate some of those risks, and create a little more of fairness and balance in that very process. …
If [Hayward]‘s worked hard, if he’s earned that spot, and has played, has present, prepared himself to that degree, he deserves the opportunity to go and be a part of that team. Now, it doesn’t say that, not, we’re not going to, as [Mark] Cuban is doing, is trying to say, “Let’s talk about, then, how we correct it in the future.”
Which activities are players contractually barred from taking part in?
Well, there’s some definite, per contract, in, that’s written into their contract, those things, and you can only, almost imagine some of ‘em. Anything that’s, could be perceived as a high-risk type of activity.
Just, parachuting. Hang gliding. Scuba diving. You know, getting in race cars and high-speed racing.* Anything that increases their odds and chances of, you know, and of course, anyone could be walking down the street and be hit by a car, or in a car accident.
But those things that have higher probabilities of accidents, and the impact of those accidents in, meaning, serious injury to their lifes** if not the life they’re threatening as well, are things that are put into the contract so that, again, we are putting in such a high investment into these players. Not only the team, but the community, the investment they’re all putting in. And so, we really try to manage that, and protect ourselve,** as much as possible.
* Unless the owner of the team is driving the race car and he invites you to get into the race car. From “Driven,” Larry H. Miller’s autobiography:
Larry and Karl reminisced during their daily visits [at the hospital after LHM's heart attack]. They recalled the time Miller took Malone for a ride in one of his Cobras. Miller placed a $100 bill on the dashboard and told Malone it was his if he could pick it up. Every time Malone reached for the money, Miller accelerated, slamming Malone back into his seat. “Never did get that money,” says Malone. “He knew what he was doing. Everytime [sic] he accelerated, I was hanging onto that grab bar he had in there. I had white knuckles. We were going 100 miles per hour on a one-lane road. The more he saw me cringe, the faster he drove. He loved it. He had this smile on his face. He always wanted to one-up me. It was as if he were saying, ‘Now you know I’m better than you at driving.’ He loved this Cobras.”
** Not typos.
Have you ever had to scold any of your players on this front?
It’s really communicating with our players, and making sure they understand our goals and objectives. That helps and starts the process. We also are careful of the players that we select, so that, again, that they think and act much like we do. And those steps help to try to really prevent, prevention is as much an important part of it.
The other thing that we’re doing, which I’m really excited about, with, the work that’s going on, is our coaching staff, under Quin [Snyder]‘s direction, is we’ve literally got a schedule put together, and our coaching staff is out visiting every one of our players under contract. During the month of August, we’re gonna have an open gym in September, but in July and August, they’ve been out visiting these players, observing their workouts.
And if a player is really spending the time, that, during the off-season, and building and improving his game, he really has very little time to do things that could be perceived as a little bit stupid.
Which areas of the roster do you still need to address?
Well, I think one of the areas, I think that, also, as, is obvious, is that, you know, we have two good point guards between Dante [Exum] and Trey [Burke]. And I think we’ll still look at that area. That’s gonna be an area that I think Dennis [Lindsey and] Justin [Zanik] have had discussions and mentioned to me on.
We talked to Greg [Miller] as well about it a little this week, in saying that we’ll continue to assess that, and at some point we may look at what we’re doing to just fortify that and bring in maybe a third point guard. (1280)
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine right off the bat
Jake Scott: You’ve been spending a lot of time in Vegas. You up?
Dennis Lindsey: Yeah, too much. No, I work too hard for my money. I’m not going to give it away rolling bones.
Are you a baseball guy?
I played up until I was in 13 years old, and if I would’ve been a better hitter, I might’ve continued. But yeah, I, and, so I did love it. Actually coached it a couple years out of college…
Now that you’re in the business, it just, you have much less time to pay attention to it, but I’m always going to root for the Rangers and the Astros.
And I’ve been very curious with the Houston Astros in their rebuild, and it being so extreme with what they did relative to payroll and building up their farm system. I’m curious to see how that’s going to work in the next 24 to 36 months.
What have you seen from Trey Burke at the USA camp?
It was a tremendous experience for him, especially coming off summer league, and as always, the young guys, they, the older guys get after ‘em pretty good. But you guys know Trey and his ball security and decision-making ability, it was hard for the more veteran players to speed him up. And some of his Select teammates got sped up and made questionable decisions.
But Quin [Snyder] and I were able to take Trey out to dinner, and we had a great dinner, and we were able to talk about the experience, and as you can imagine, for a 21-year-old, it’s quite the eye-opener when you have Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, you know, running at you full speed. That’s pretty humbling.
So I think he realizes he’s gotta put in a lotta work to reach higher levels. It was very interesting, we actually pointed out certain guys’ post-practice routines. And it’s something that we did with Trey and Ray Allen during the year last season, and we were able to watch other guys closely and just how they go about perfecting their craft.
I think it’s a unbelievable experience when literally it’s the best players in the world doing it right in front of you.
What have you seen from Gordon Hayward at the USA camp?
We were just thrilled, amazed with where his body’s come. He had the sheepest* grin when we asked him what happened to his body. He said, “Well, I now have a wife that cooks for me. And in retrospect, maybe I didn’t eat so good.”
That, coupled with three-a-days, he was at 230 pounds, and it wasn’t the weight, as is much as how it was distributed. You know, he’s moved from a young man to a man, and he was able to still keep his speed and strength and lift at the rim, and Gordon played very well.
You know, he’s, and so, you know, he looks so physical and so big, coach [Mike] K[rzyzewski] was thinking about playing him as much as a mobile skilled “four” in addition to being a “three” wing. So, we were very pleased with the readily apparent work that Gordon’s put in.
Paul Millsap D-Willing Hayward during the Team USA scrimmage
What’s the next big step you want to see Hayward take in the 2014-2015 season?
I think there’s another step with leadership. I think there’s another step — he’s a great person. He’s very committed, but I think there’s another level of vocal command, if you will.
I think there’s the part that we visited on post-season, with, you can’t live and die on the last shot, last half, last game, last week, that he’s gotta keep his body language strong and find joy, enjoyment out of the game. And I think if he does that, the team will really follow with those habits.
So I think he and Derrick [Favors] and some of our veteran players have to really partner with Quin on how we’re going to practice, and how we’re gonna comport ourselves, and how we’re gonna deal with officials, and disappointments and bad calls.
What is your reaction to Hayward’s “I don’t think I have to live up to anything now. They paid me what they wanted to pay me” quote?
Yeah, so I wasn’t there. And there’s context of a conversation, and I don’t want to pretend that I know what the conversation was, or what he meant by that particular statement.
I would venture to say and guess to say that Gordon’s always felt responsible, especially for the win-loss record. So whether it’s for a dollar, you know, in a bet in a pickup game or for a significant sum to have him play in the NBA, it really isn’t gonna change his mindset. He always feels pressure for the win.
So, now, again, I wasn’t there. I haven’t followed up with conversations. It’s not an alarming comment. You know, things happen when we all speak a bunch.
Initial feedback/perspective on Dante Exum?
Yeah, so our diligence about the person, the kid, his family was spot on…
We’re thrilled to have him. Th–again, we’re going to protect the young fella. We, we’re gonna let nature take its course, as far as his development and his game readiness, and he was able to show glimpses of…his speed, and his ability to pass and read the court.
And what will allow all those things to come out would be strength, one; game experience, two; and just a lotta directed skill-work that will, again, allow some his natural gifts to come out. So, we’re not gonna put timelines on him, expectations. We’re gonna just support him fundamentally, just to build a good foundation so we can have a special player in due time.
What is Ian Clark’s contract status?
No comment.* (1280)
* The Jazz picked up Clark’s option two hours after this interview.
How has the offseason been?
It’s been going good so far. I’ve been getting a lot of work done in the gym, and you know, just out touring around Salt Lake City, just trying to find stuff to do.
What are your physical goals this offseason?
To come back a better athlete than I was last year, basically. You know, come back in better shape, just those little things.
Have you slipped athletically?
No. Nowhere near…The plan just to get better. You know, just increase, you know, the vertical and increase the strength. Increase the speed, the quickness. Just all those little things.
On playing for Quin Snyder
You know, I’m honestly excited about this year, this season.
What is it you’re excited about?
Just the change, the direction that the organization’s going, and you know, I like Quin as a coach. And you know, I like the system he run, and I feel like I could, he could really maximize my abilities out there on the court.
You say you’ve been searching around Salt Lake City. What have you found?
You know, I’m still a big kid, so I been going to a lot of amusement parks, basically…I had my little brother in town with me, and you know, he wanted to go out, go to the water parks and go to the amusement parks, so I just took him with me and you know, it was almost every weekend. Every other day, basically.
How old’s your little brother?
Fourteen…He try to come out here every summer. Finally, my mom finally let him come out here this summer, but you know, he just love being around me and just love basketball, really. He ju–went up to the gym with me a couple times, working out. So I mean, he just one of those guys who love to play basketball.
** Is not into sushi (only tried it once); prefers chicken to steak
How do you stay motivated? How do you stay engaged in trying to reach certain goals?
You know, one thing I do, I read all the bad stuff people say about me, basically.
Do you have another step offensively in your game?
Yeah, I got plenty of steps offensively in my game.
I don’t think I been able to use them yet–
What are they?
–so hopefully, this upcoming season, I can really show y’all what I can do on the offensive end of the court.
Give me an example.
Just want to show y’all. I don’t want to talk about it right now. I just want y’all to see it.
Were you noticeably more tired last year playing 30 minutes per game vs. 23 minutes per game?
I think at the first month of the season I was…I was a little tired physically, but then as the season went on, I, my body got used to it. You know, eventually I got used to, I learned how to take care of my body.
I learned how to get my rest, eat the right kind of food, and you know, it got, it helped me out towards the end of the year when I wasn’t getting as tired fast, quickly, as I was in the beginning of the year.
Are you glad you didn’t go through free agency, or do you now wish you would’ve?
I think personally for me, I made the right decision for me. You know, I, it could’ve went both ways. I could’ve went into free agency, but you know, I just wanted to play it smart and just go ahead and just get it over with…
I had to do what was best for me and my family, and you know, that was just go ahead and get it over with, ’cause I already been through that situation once when I got traded. I didn’t want to go through that again.
Have you given Gordon Hayward a hard time, told him he has to buy dinner now?
No, I haven’t spoke to him yet.
You gotta bust his chops a little bit.
He got to take the team out to dinner now…He got the big money, he got to now.
David Locke recounts how he “accidentally” “ran into” Gordon Hayward at Cedar Point last summer
Locke: You need to take your brother to Cedar Point, by the way. It’s out in Ohio. It’s the best amusement park in the country…I was there, and Gordon Hayward was, I s–I bumped in– of all weird things, it’s in Ohio.
I was there last summer, I bumped into Gordon, like, not, just in line for a ride, and he was cheating, because he was too tall to ride the ride. He was lying about his height.
Favors: Wow. (1280)
Have season ticket renewals met your expectations?
We have had very good success…We’ve had very good renewals. We’ve had over, I think it’s, we’re right now at about 78 percent renewal on our season tickets, which is very good. We’ve had very strong new season ticket renewals, which is saying, our fan base is saying, “You know what? We’re excited about this new team. We’re excited to wanna, now, be a part of it.”
And that’s the one thing I’ve been encouraging fans to do, saying you know what? Now’s an exciting time to be with this and say, “I was part of a, I got on with this team as it started up with this new, now, group of players and hopefully our future Stocktons and Malones and Hornaceks.”
** Rigby on partaking in a barbecue event with Hans Olsen, Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine: Well, I, you know, when I was told, I’d asked if I would do it. I was told that Hans would be doing it, and that’s why I said I want, I said, if Hans is doing it, I’m on. I wanna be there if Hans is doing it, I’m there. I’m a good, you know, side for Hans. And so, I’m not worried about him, ’cause I know he’s there to protect me.
You are a man of prominence in Utah. What were some of the worst jobs you’ve ever had?
Well, the worst job for me was, literally, I was, you know, I’m a farmboy from Farmington, Utah. So you know what, growing up from literally when I was six years old, I remember driving the tractor. I was taught at a very young age, before I could buck the hay, dad and brother were out on the hay wagon. So I got to just drive the tractor until I was old enough.
And then I became kinda, my brother always said I had the more brains and he had the brawn. So I always did the stacking on, I had to stack the wagons so that, you know, you made sure that the hay didn’t fall off. So, I was the geometry guy that knew how to really stack good hay, and so probably the g–the hardest thing for me starting out as a young man, working on a farm, and doing that hard work.
And then I worked for a wholesale florist, and we did work there.
** Rigby on his experience in blue-collar work, UDQM: It also made me realize, you know what, I’m gonna go get an education so hopefully I can use more my brain and less of my body.
What are your early impressions of Quin Snyder?
Well, I’ll tell you, Quin has, he not only said yes on, to Dennis [Lindsey] and myself, and Greg Miller, on a Friday, he was there on Saturday, and literally, he hasn’t stopped working since. He’s jumped right in and done a remarkable job.
He’s constantly not only working with the players, but he’s working mentally, and thinking and preparing and has a great game plan. Has a very bright mind, and a very, and really analytical mind of the game of basketball and how to maximize the most out of his team and looking at the talent.
He was down this weekend, down with Dennis, and again, back in Las Vegas watching Gordon [Hayward], and he’s been out seeing some of the players, talking to players, working with our coaching staff. I’ve loved his work ethic. I love how his mind works and his commitment to players, in helping them in their development of their game. And we’ve had great responses from our players, as they’ve talked about their interaction, early interactions with Quin, of their excitement to go to work for him.
When he was down in Vegas, as an example, he ran into Paul Millsap, of which, he, of course, worked for only one year with Paul in Atlanta. And Paul couldn’t stop ranting and raving about what a great guy Quin was and [that] we stole his guy, and the relationship that they have developed in less, in just a year’s time. And that’s a pretty darn good endorsement. And I know that DeMarre Carroll felt the same way when we hired him, and you know, expressed his congratulations to Quin, and to the, to Utah for getting him.
So, I think, you go-guys, we’ve got a really, a real gem in Quin Snyder that we’re gonna be really excited about, what he’s doing and what he’s bringing, to the Utah Jazz.
Not arguing that Hayward’s not worth $63 million, but what were your thoughts when you saw that number come across?
Well, $63 million is still $63 million, and we’ve still gotta, you’ve gotta, you have to have a respect for money, and a respect, ’cause that money is made up of the hard work of not only the Millers, but also of our sponsors, of our ticket holders, of our strategy, of the work we’ve done with our TV contracts.
And so, we have to make sure that we’re covering those dollars and covering the total. But we do have to step back and look at it in total and not only micro-cosmically is that individual player. And the one positive thing is we’ve looked at the Gor–at Gordon’s contract. Would we have liked to…maybe pay a little less? Yes, but we’ve probably liked to do that with all 15 of our players.
But we’ve also looked at it and said, “You know what, in the total perspective of where dollars are going, and what the investment we have in this young, in Gordon Hayward and his potential,” you know what, it was still, we wouldn’t have made that, we wouldn’t have pulled the trigger if we didn’t feel it was still a value that was well worth it. And we really feel that it is, that, you know what, we’re gonna make that investment work. …
We feel we’ve got a very good asset in Gordon Hayward, and, but again, we have to watch, financially, our investments and treat our money very safer in what we’re doing. But we feel very good about where we’re at right now. (1280)
On retired life
It’s wonderful. Barbara and I are blessed. Since retirement, we’ve had our health. We have the means to be able to travel a little bit. We have good friends around the country, and we’re having a ball. It couldn’t be better. …
People kinda looked at me as a one-dimensional person. They thought it was basketball, basketball, basketball. It was quite the opposite. Basketball’s third on a list of things I like to do. I enjoy baseball, more than I enjoy basketball. I was better at it; I like it; I come from Brooklyn, the Dodgers. However, our real love–and I’m talking about Barbara and I–is the theater.
So we decided to investigate and learn more about the theater than being just patrons…We took acting class at the university, but we traveled doing “Love Letters.” It’s a two-person play, and made some money for some very worthy causes.
What about the Jazz now? As someone that took the Jazz and nurtured and grew it, what’s it like to watch the program now?
You said it very well. “Nurtured.” We came here, we were a joke. We were, frankly, we were a joke among professional sports, not just the NBA. And to see it reach the point to where we were number one, [and] we were the most respected, we were way ahead of Moneyball.
And one time we had a couple years there where we won more games per dollar spent than any team in any sport. Teams called us, you know, asking how we did it, and a lot became models and used the Jazz as a model for the way an organization should be run.
So what does it feel like when you see the franchise now? Do you feel like they’ve taken good care of it?
They’re back at Day One. I don’t know. Something went wrong. I don’t know. I can’t really comment on it because I haven’t been there. I haven’t been in the meetings…I want them to succeed, because, after all, you know, I spent so many years there. So many years of building and working with that organization. And so, they’re in entirely different hands now.
And if you look at it, it’s very interesting. I used to say to Larry Miller, “Players are temporary. We’re permanent.” Okay? So we have to put a brand on ourselves that says, “This is how the Jazz do it. This is the Jazz way.” All right? And for years, that worked, all right? We hired from within. You know, when I quit, they hired Jerry [Sloan], and Jerry, and after Jerry, Ty Corbin, and e–all of a sudden, that stopped, and they went outside.
They passed over Scott Layden, [who had] many years of experience in this franchise. And they passed over, they let Ty Corbin go. The thing that was always, to me, the strength of the Jazz, was what the Yankees had, what the Dodgers had, what the Cowboys had, and I pick those teams because they, their longevity of success was so important. And they got away from that.
You know, suddenly it broke down. And they went away, and they started to look outside. So not only have they changed the team, which is natural–the players get older, there’s anything, they get hurt, they this that–but also in the front office. They’ve evolved, and they made some changes. And the future remains to be seen. Maybe it’s gonna be fine. Maybe it’s gonna be great. But, it was only a couple years ago that this team was playing for the world’s championship.
So I don’t know, you know? All I can say is, one thing about sports. The bottom line is how you finish, what your record is. And you can come out of it by, you can say, “Well, we have a very, very poor record,” all right? As, years ago, the Houston Rockets lost on purpose in order to get good players, and it worked out for them, if you go through the draft. Or you can go the old-fashioned way, and spend a lot of money like the Miami Heat have done, all right?
Or you can do it like the Jazz way, and that’s be patient, promote from within, and keep your ideals together, work hard, and listen to your fans once in awhile. They’re the pulse; they’re the bloodline for what’s going to be your future here. ‘Cause if they let you down, then you better start looking for a new place to live.
On not worrying about wins and losses
When people ask me, “Do you miss coaching?” I say, “No. I miss playing.” You know, that’s how coaching came about. I enjoyed playing. Coaching was a job, and I could turn it on and turn it off. And sometimes, I was criticized for it, because, I remember one time, Larry Miller, who was the owner of the Jazz, said to me, “Well, you don’t take losing serious enough.” I said, “If I did, it would kill me.”…
[Winning or losing] was one thing I never worried about…I never worried about being able to get a job. I think if the Jazz chose to fire me, somebody else in the NBA would hire me, or, you know, I certainly would, there’d be people waiting to hire me to do, you know, ESPN or whatever it is. You know, so I ne–that never bothered me, you know?
I mean, I wasn’t a person who was limited to how I got there. After all, you know, my father didn’t own the team. That’s not how I got the job, you know? I got the job because I worked hard and had a lot of success along the way.
On expectations of players and his coaching philosophy
I enjoyed getting up and going to practice. I enjoyed the players. I have had disappointments in that area. You know, I had a player who I loved, John Drew, who I loved him. I had him with the Atlanta Hawks. I traded to get him here. And he chose cocaine over the Jazz…He’s a recovered drug addict, but he’s back on his feet and driving a cab in Houston when he could’ve been in the Hall of Fame. And that sometimes disappoints you.
Other humans sometimes disappoint you, but you know what, you have to move on. I tried, when I was coaching, I used to say, we’re not running Boys Town here. I want to be sure that I take care of the good players and the good people, and, as well as those who are choosing to go in another direction. I didn’t, I tried not to let players with character faults influence what we were trying to achieve.
I, it wasn’t my job to try to save everybody. I wasn’t Father Flanagan, you know, so, but the idea of being, after a season, I used to say to the players, “It’s important. We don’t have many rules. We want you to play hard. We want you to play smart. And we want you to be on time, because you can’t do the other two unless you’re here, all right? And the fourth thing is, have fun, because life is too short, and you’ll burn out if it isn’t, if you don’t enjoy playing basketball and you don’t enjoy practicing–”
You know, people used to say, “What’s the greatest asset that Karl Malone and John Stockton had?”–and you can throw in Thurl Bailey and Mark Eaton with that group; Bobby Hansen, whatever it might be, you know, Darrell Griffith–is that they loved to come to practice. They loved basketball, and that’s why they were so good.
Did you ever fail at anything?
All the time. Let me tell you something, how my life started. My mother died in my childbirth. In my childbirth. So I never had a mother, okay? I was brought up by the neighborhood. My father worked on the docks six and a half days, and you know, we, and so, you know, right off the bat, you had a reason to fail, you know?
We didn’t have a lot of money, but we were never poor. And I was very fortunate. I had good coaches, good tutors, good mentors to follow. It just was my nature not to be knocked down, and not be able to get up. Maybe it’s my Brooklyn background or something, you know, but I never felt hurt by anything…
Now, I’m trying to outlive the system. And I hope I live to 150, and Barbara lives to 151, and then we’ll have it licked.
On his wife, Barbara
We have just celebrated on June 1 our 58th wedding anniversary. It was a match made in heaven. We were introduced by Al McGuire, the great basketball player and coach. Both of us are from Brooklyn. She could walk to Ebbets Field; I had to take the bus, but that, I lived in a little nicer neighborhood than she did. But anyway, we get along. We like each other and what each other does. We like our sports. We like to do things together…We like the same things, and we get along. We respect each other. …
I got into the Utah [Sports] Hall of Fame, and they give you a ring when you get in…I found out where they got the rings made, and I had one made for Barbara. And I called her up and I said, “Barbara, come on up here. And I got a ring for you because if I get a ring, you should get a ring ’cause I couldn’t get this ring without you.” …
Well, that was fine. And the women cried, and everybody was happy. They thought it was a great, you know, they said, “Boy, that gray-head guy, he’s a romantic sort of guy to do that.” You know, the women became envious and they were, you could see they were looking at their husbands.
And we were, when I sat down, the two [other inductees], one Todd [Christensen], big football player on one side, and Bruce Hurst, big baseball player on the other side, and they looked at me and they said, “Thanks a lot. How are we gonna go home now?” You know, “We’re gonna have to sleep on the couch. How did you ever think to do that?”
You know, so, but Barbara deserves that. She really does. We’re a partnership, and I really mean this: I’d never have gotten to where I did…without Barbara. (KUTV)
** The show hilariously introduced Exum with Shania Twain. “Looks like we made it, look how far we’ve come my baby…”
** Dante is just like the rest of us. He doesn’t like hearing his own voice.
Tell us about Boomers (Australian national team) camp. Has it been a nice escape from the intense American media?
Yeah, the media over there is crazy there. The media, you’re doing something for the media after every practice, after every game. So you know, just to come over here and have a quiet [time with] all the guys, just be back into something I’m used to.
Your roomie, Joe Ingles, told us last week that he was planning on taking you under his wing during Boomers camp, eh?
Yeah, he’s been pretty good as a roommate, but for him taking me under [his] wing, I don’t know, so. (laughs)
Mate, what do you think your role on the Boomers will be during the World Cup? Did you get clarity on that during camp?
Yeah, I got a good understanding through it. You know, there’s, got [Matthew Dellavedova] at the point, but you know, our system and what we run is basically, anyone at the point’s one. Joe Ingles being very versatile, he can play the one. I can play the one.
So, and you know, losing Patty [Mills] was, it was hard for the team…’cause everyone really wants the medal. So you know, we put in certain plays that helps us get shots that Patty would’ve been able to get, so.
Joey told us he’s going to get all of Patty’s shots, so good luck getting your shots at the World Cup.
Well, hopefully I get the ball in my hands, and I won’t be passing to him.
Have the Jazz been supportive of you playing with the Boomers?
Yeah, and they think it’s a good opportunity for me to get a bit of experience before I head into the NBA season, ’cause you know, I didn’t play college ball and I’ve come, like, basically straight out of high school. So you know, they think it’s just a good opportunity for me to go over there, get a kind of a feel for the professional game, and just head back to Utah after that, so.
What was the strangest thing you were asked during draft interviews?
You know, I think it was at the combine and I was in an interview, and they asked me, like, “Other than marijuana, what drugs do you use?”
Did you know you were going to Utah before Adam Silver said your name?
No, it’s like, to be honest, like, on the bus ride over, they said the Jazz said that if I fell to five, that they were going to take me, so I knew that was kinda my ceiling, or. And then when my agent, my agent called me after that and was kind of, like, trying to sell Utah to me, and I kinda, I had a feeling that that’s where I was going, so.
And then [at the draft], I found out Orlando wasn’t going to take me, and then I got a call from [Quin Snyder], and he just talked me through how they were gonna use me, and what the plan is for the future, so.
What were some of the elements of Utah that your coach sold you on?
Yeah, it was just basically him being a point guard coach, and the experience he has had overseas and what he’s gonna bring as an NBA coach. And I thought going into that type of system, it’s gonna fit me well with having [Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis] here as a coach and how he’s similar to his kind of style, so.
Do you have a chip on your shoulder from the Orlando Magic passing you over?
No, I don’t buy into any of that stuff. And, they had a vision for where they wanna go with their program, and I’m not going out to prove anyone anything.
You know, I’m happy where I am at the Utah Jazz, and they’ve invested a lot in me and willing to invest a lot. So you know, I’m just happy to be there and I just wanna do what I, the expectations I put on myself. So yeah, I’m not going into the NBA season saying, “I want to prove the Magic wrong,” so.
We’re going to play a little game with you to help you prepare for being a member of the Utah Jazz.
Who led the Jazz in scoring last season?
For a bonus point, how many points a game do you reckon?
I’m going to say, 18?
Not too bad, 16. What is a “Ute”?
I have no clue…I would say it’s an animal.
Good try. It comes from the Ute tribe of Native Americans, which is where the state of Utah gets its name. How many championships has the Jazz franchise won in its history?
They have won zero.
That is correct. The Jazz have retired the numbers of seven players. Can you name three?
Yeah. So, Pete Maravich. ‘Cause I wanted to take No. 7, but he had it. And then, Stockton and Malone.
Good man. Very well done. What is the name of your new home arena?
He’s got Utah down. Dante, well done. (Grizz & Tizz From Way Downtown)