Photoshop, Moni’s early years
What are your favorite memories as a player?
I have so many. And first thing comes to my mind is, we made the Western Conference Finals [in 2007], and we were just playing hard and having fun. Made All-Star team [that season], and individual, it was my top two in my career. First we [the Detroit Pistons] won the championship ’04.
And as a, you know, as a individual, as a player, made the All-Star team because of [Jerry Sloan's] system, because of the team organization. And I was able to, you know, fit in, and was able to play with the great players, and great coaching staff and the fans.
Who is the best player you ever played with?
I would say Andrei [Kirilenko], AK-47. Because he was doing, he’s doing, like, little bit of everything. I mean, he comes, help you on the defense, steal the ball, block the shots, and rebound for you, defend point guard ’til the “five,” number five inside.
In offense, such an unselfish player. Pass the ball for you, and, I would say AK, because I had so many, you know, good games with him, and it was at least helping my game when we were playing on the same time. And like I said, AK is, I think, to me, the best player I ever played with.
Who is the best player you ever played against?
Tim Duncan, I would say…The way he plays, nothing special when you look at it. You watch him first time, I was, “This guy even, can’t even jump.” I mean, but he’s a, he just play and show everybody, and fundamental way and show young kids, “Man, I wanna be like him when I grow up.” ‘Cause this is, he’s so simple, but he gets [it] done every night. …
I really love to watch him. I still watch him on TV, and he still get it done. I mean, he comes every night, he shows up and play 20-10, almost. And as he so, he was killing on the playoff times, and they won a championship. I mean, it just, I learn actually a couple moves from him. I watch, and turnaround and bang off the glass; face up, hit it the glass. And really, such a special player.
On the first time he met Jerry Sloan
So, let me tell you this. First, I signed with the Jazz, and first, we were heading to Boise for training camp. I met the, Jerry Sloan first day over there, and he looked at me: “Hey son, are you in shape?”
“Coach, I think I am. Why?”
And he’s like, “We’ll see. No, I’m just asking, you know?”
I was like, okay. ‘Cause I played national team and everything in that past summer, and I came in, I thought I was in shape.
First practice: “Coach, I’m not in shape. The way we doing it, I don’t think that’s gonna be enough for me.”
So, first time I met Jerry over there, and that was the story for us. And since then, I came every year f–in great shape. Shape, and Jerry Sloan shape. So I was in gr–Jerry Sloan shape, which, they want me to run, be able to run 48 minutes. So, that was funny story for me.
When you ruptured your Achilles’ tendon, did you know it was serious right away?
I felt something pop. ‘Cause I was driving right side, and the floor was kind of wet, and I think I step on that spot, and it’s kind of something popped. And I looked at, I looked at behind me. I was like, “Who kicked me? What happened here?”
And then I tried to get up.* I couldn’t, of course, and on the way the locker room I kind of realize something serious here. And doctors just, you know, came in and told me that I ruptured my Achilles’.
Randy Rigby: He was such a critical part to the team, and I, it was a really blow to us as we knew this wasn’t just gonna be a day or two. We’re dealing with a long-term problem here.
* And remember, some Jazz employee thought that moment made a great wallpaper.
What was your Achilles’ injury like, both emotionally and physically?
I knew the physically was gonna be hard for me, but mentally, I had no idea whatsoever. Because I had no injury, no surgeries, nothing like that before. So, I didn’t know what to do, to be honest. I was just sitting home, doing nothing. My leg was, you know, high on the couch. I was icing, resting.
All, after couple months, all I was thinking, when am I gonna come back? Am I gonna be able to come back? All question marks in my head, ’cause I had no surgery before. Not such a long injuries and put me on the side. So, to be honest, I was, I had no idea. I was just doing nothing and just sit home.
It was not me, ’cause when I was, you know, before that, I was playing everyday. I had my plans in my head. I’m gonna go sleep, I’m gonna wake up in the morning, I’m gonna eating breakfast, going to practices, do–you know, nap and games.
When I was hurt, I had no plans. So that’s the most difficult time for me to get used to it. And all I want to just go out there and play, prove people I’m not, I’m still here. So, it’s been really tough days, but you know, it was not good.
On being traded by the Jazz
I mean, think about my side too. I mean, like I said, seven years. Individual and as a team, we had, we done some good things for the city and the organization. And I was so proud, and I thought I was gonna be here forever, to be honest.* I had no idea I was gonna get trade, and I was disappointed at the begin.
Then I realize this is part of the game, part of the business, so I was able to let it go and you know, no hard feelings whatsoever. So, like I said, it was sad, to see myself leaving this organization, city. And my two kids born here. This is our second home. So it was kind of tough at the begin, then I got over with and moved on.
Always our Moneyman
How was that championship Pistons team able to come together and beat more talented teams?
First, we had nothing to lose. I mean, we had, I had good, great teammates, and great players on and off the floor. And our chemistry was there. Everybody’s, was try to helping each other on and off the floor. And fans was great. And we had no superstars you can call on that team, but everybody was a future superstars. Like Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun [Prince], Rasheed Wallace there, Ben Wallace.
You know, just a lot of, like I said, great, great teammates I play with, and great organization and great chemistry. We were hanging out just on and off the floor. We were having good time. We were winning, and it was really fun.
What was playing for [Quin Snyder's ex-father-in-law] Larry Brown like?
He was, I mean, I wasn’t starting at the time. I was coming off the bench. To be honest, I was, I get, I got mad sometimes ’cause he wasn’t playing me much as I wanted to. I thought I could’ve played more for him. And then I realized, I’m learning so many things from the goodest, one of the, you know, greatest coach, and the players. I told myself, I said to myself, “Be patient. You, my turn’s gonna come. Your turn’s gonna come.”
So, I was very patient. I learned so many things from him, and also from my teammates. So, he was always into the game. He was always, even in the practices, he was so much involved. And he’s not just sitting, saying, you know, “You guys run” and all that. He was just living in the game. He was, right after the games, we used to go out, eat, and right after the practice or games. Just, you know, I learned a lot from him.
What kind of impact did the Dream Team have on you?
[In 1992], I was watching more soccer than basketball, to be honest, ’cause I, and I wasn’t even started [playing basketball] at the time. I started when I was 14. As you know, it’s such a late age, 14 years old. Can he make it? So many question marks, people’s, in people heads.
Before that, I was play, I played two years soccer. I was going to the games, playing games. Practices everyday.
Were you any good?
I was good. I was okay, as far as you asking me. And I was, I thought I was good. But I wasn’t that tall at the time, so I had no idea about basketball. I’m not gonna lie, here, and, I wasn’t watching games.
And, but when I turned 14, in that summer, I grew like crazy. Another, I would say, probably, like, 8 inches? Then my dad told me…”This is not gonna happening. You not gonna be playing soccer from now on.” He took me to the basketball camps, and since then, and, been playing basketball.
What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you when you were playing in Europe?
We were playing in former Yugoslavia, and it was a small arena. It’s probably, like, 5,000 people was there. We’re playing, and it, during the timeouts, the people who was sitting right behind our bench–fans, right?
He was spitting all over the floor. Spitting all over the jerseys. Throwing, like, lighters. Throwing, like, little rocks. Cell phones. You just name it. It was like, mm-mm. You better win and go home. You don’t wanna stay any longer here. So it was really scary. At the same time, that’s what they wanna do, make you scared. Then you can lose.
Whatever happened to the Ferrari?
Memo (total deadpan): Which one?
Rigby: Share the story about driving the Ferrari–
Memo: On the highway?
Rigby: Yeah, on the highway.
Memo: I [was playing golf] probably like five, six years ago. I was in highway, I was going home, I was a little late. As you know, you don’t wanna make your wife, you know, angry. So, I was like, “Where are you? I’m on my way. I’ll be there in five.” ‘Cause I was away, like, 30 minutes. And so, I had to go fast, catch up that time, right?
And I was driving, driving. I was, I looked at it, and on screen, 100, 110, 120, 25. Soon as I saw the “25” on the screen, at the same time I looked back, and I w–and there was a light. And I had to pull over and the po–the officer came to me and says, “Hey guy, what are you doing?”
I said, “Sir, I’m try to go home. I’m late.”
And [he said], “Call your wife. You gonna be a little late. A little more late.”
And so, they, you know, he gave me a ticket. It was a expensive ticket, by the way. So, since then, never done anything like it…It was a great experience. I learned from it, and I’m not gonna do it again. About Ferrari, I have the new one.
Gordon Monson: The old one was yellow, right?
Memo: Then I had a black, and I have red now. (1280)
What is Mehmet Okur’s new role with the Utah Jazz?
Randy Rigby: We cherish our relationship with Memo Okur, and his family…We felt he’s a great ambassador and a great basketball mind.
And so, we’ve asked Memo to kinda help continue to be involved up in a consulting role, and in, and a regular, you know, visit to mode, to come up, and come up, bring his family up from time to time, and watch some Jazz basketball, to be involved in, you know, visiting with the team, and giving us advice on the court as well as being an ambassador here.
We have a lotta needs with great sponsors, and community events that we also could use his involvement. And so, we’re gonna have Memo more involved with the Utah Jazz, which is really a blessing to us and we really appreciate Memo’s willingness to do it.
Is this an official hire?
Yes, we’ve hired Mymo** to, yes, to be involved with the Utah Jazz both on and off the basketball court. Now, have we given him an official title? He doesn’t need a title.
* Spencer Checketts thinks Craig Bolerjack’s Mehmet Okur call was “Moneyball.”
** Not a typo.
On Memo taking a role with the Jazz
Mehmet Okur: It’s been two years, I was just enjoying my family time. As you know, we live in San Diego. It’s been really fun for me, but I just want to start, and especially here, it’s my second home.
I just want to, you know, start, wanna be able to help [the Jazz], ’cause it’s been seven years I played for them. I have enjoyed every second I was here, so I’m looking forward to it, actually, so it should be fun…
I believe I did my best last seven years, and it was bless for me, and I think I can help the young players on and off the floor. And just like Randy said, I’m gonna be doing with the sponsors, for the community, for this Salt Lake City, all the fans. Whatever they need me, I’ll be there for them.
Rigby: You know, being one that analyzed, and had the opportunity to say, “Is this the right move for Memo and for ourselves?”
Let me also just say that as we looked at it and analyzed this, that if there was a player that we feeled replicates Jazz basketball style, both on and off the court, who his, understands the challenges and the issues that a player goes through, and can be a good sounding board, and an advice, not overbearing, very open and can be a person that they can confidentially talk with, and talk about the issues that an NBA player has to deal with on and off the court, Memo Okur comes to your mind.
As you look at, then, an individual who also understands the game of basketball, and what it means to also interact with the fan base, and to make the fans feel a part and appreciated for their commitment into this, by spending dollars, and appre–and telling ‘em thank you, and telling sponsors thank you, and interacting with them, and having some fun with it. Memo is a classic example.
And so it wo–he was a perfect person for us to say, “You know what? We want those people around, and coming regularly into our community, and being a part of helping promote Jazz basketball, and saying thank you for the Jazz.”
What do you see in this young team and what do you see these players accomplishing?
Memo: I think they gonna be running team, because we have so much fresh legs and young kids on the, in the team, and well, here’s their chance. And they, you know, they need to just work hard and be humble. All they need, to me, just go out there, play hard, show everybody this our team, and this our city…
I was at the practice today, and everybody, you know, seems good, in good shape, and play hard, and work hard. So, should be a lot of fun. And at the same time, and if I look at, if you look at the last year, it wasn’t that, really, good year last year. I think it’s time for them to just show up and show everybody, and, you know, they can play.
Can you teach Enes Kanter to shoot that stretch jumper?
Memo: You know, actually I was able to talk to him today, and, right after practice. And I told him that, first thing I notice from you, when you shoot, you never use your legs.
As a shooter, look at, I mean, you just name it. And you have to use your legs, ’cause if you don’t do it during the practice, you’re not gonna be able to do it during the games, ’cause you gonna be getting tired and tired. And 48-minutes games. And I just told him that, use your legs and see what happens. See the different.
Were you always a good shooter, or was it something you achieved through work? Can shooting be taught?
Memo: I was not really good shooter when I was young. “Young” means by, around, I was probably 16, 17. I bet it’s still young in, but I was playing professionally in overseas, Euro games, and Turkish leagues. And then I start to shooting, and people like it.
My coaching staff liked it, and I was like, “Mm, this is gonna work for me. I better pay attention and work harder and try to get better at it.” And I did. Since then, I been just practicing before and after practice and before and a–you know, after the games. Became my best weapon in my game.
What about Jazz players? Can they learn to shoot like you did?
Memo: Why not? Never late. As long as they be on the court–let’s say, when I was, if I was feeling during, after the games my shot was short or long, next day, there, be there like a hour before, probably shoot like 500 times. Different spots, try to fix that.
I mean, if they pay attention and go, or leave, I mean, go early, stay on the floor, work at it, work at it, work at it, and see what happens from there. It worked out for me. Why not for the young guys?
Do you prefer FIBA rules or NBA rules?
Memo: To me, international mu–rules are a little difficult if you don’t know it. ‘Cause I played many years, and you don’t have three–defensive three seconds in there, and you can just stay there forever and ever. So that means you can get double-teamed or triple-teamed and you not gonna be able to put the floor–put the ball on the floor like you doing here.
And I think it’s a little bit tougher than here, to be honest. And here, some games you, even you touch his hair, [officials] give you a foul. And over there, they grabbed you, they hold you, they push you, no calls; just keep playing.* …
[International players are] tough. I mean, the way they play, even the Euroleague, which the most players play for them and then for the league, and, no mercy. I mean, no fouls, just keep play hard, and play and play. So, you better show up every night over there. …
And you go to games in overseas, let’s say I’m a fan of Real Madrid and you Barcelona fan. I don’t, that something you don’t see sitting next to each other at the games. I mean, here, everybody, you know, having fun, giving everybody, each other high fives.
Over there, whoa. You Barcelona fan? Head-butt. You’re out. You s–you’re not supposed to sit here. So it even gets fired up to the games or before the games, everybody takes so serious over there.
Have you ever shown Karl Malone your championship ring?
Memo: I better not.
On Yeliz Okur
Rigby: He married way above him, with Yeliz.
Memo: You better watch out. (1280)
It’s a great day to be alive.
It’s a great day. I’s just thinking, as I was driving over here, there’s nothing like living in this community. But on days, a fall day like today, with this perfect weather and beautiful temperature, it’s great to be alive.
Only three of 14 NBA players accused of domestic violence were suspended last year. What is the NBA doing? Are there plans to address this?
We are addressing it. And we’ve been very proactive. Recently, in fact, some memos have been coming out to all of the teams about how we properly deal with, not specific issues, but how we are treating one another, as a society, as a workplace, and in our homes and in our lives.
And you know what? It comes back, you know, to me, of, we, too many of us wanna be regulated, and a lot of people don’t wanna be regulated. It comes, really, down to character, and it comes down to values. And all along, for the Utah Jazz, of, people have heard it time and time from myself and from the Utah Jazz, but it comes back to those critical values that we’ve always held to.
And that’s why we spend a lot of time really looking at our players, and doing the homework that we do, so that we bring in players of high caliber, and try to also identify. We spend a lotta time identifying patterns, and lives, and how they’re treating and dealing with teammates, family members, and, hopefully, so that we can mitigate and minimize these same issues that, unfortunately, are being talked about time and time again recently.
Have you ever had to get rid of any players? How do you do that?
We have not had to get rid of any players on that front.* I will say this. We’ve, I’ve personally had to do some serious disciplining of individuals in our organization, and we ended up, in some cases, actually, then, sending him/’em to look for employment other places, for people who could not treat employees in the proper fashion, and give the respect and dignity that every individual deserves, and in a comfortable, safe lifestyle, and a comfortable, safe work environment for them to be able to exist.
What kind of discipline can you dish out when need be?
Well, we first put ‘em on probation. We’ll give notice of probation, and we write them up. We put it, then, into our files, our human resource files. If we continue to see the issue continue, it, to mel–that tells me, then, there’s a character flaw with that individual, and you know what? Unfortunately, their philosophy, their style doesn’t match who we are, and then we unfortunately have to terminate ‘em.
* Which of course is not the same thing as never having had a player with domestic assault issues on the Jazz.
Kevin O’Connor’s scary adventure in Turkey
Kevin O’Connor tells a story of being over in Turkey watching one of the European Final games…He says all of a sudden he was sitting in the arena, and big rivalry going on, and he says, all of a sudden he looked around and realized that, all, they had oversold tickets and so they literally had people sitting in the aisleway, and in the stairs.
And then he said, then he recognized that all the security and the police were also sitting in there, just watching the game. And he all of a sudden realized this could be a very dangerous situation. And so they excused themselves. (1280)
One. Along with Nicolas Batum and Evan Fournier, Rudy Gobert appeared on the French television program “Touche Pas A Mon Poste”…
…to receive his punishment for missing free throws during the FIBA World Cup (H/T @pedrounet et @Chris_Brouet):
Two. Jazz players and ex-Jazz family members’ take on social issues:
Three. A recap of Enes Kanter’s vehicular history:
** December 2011: No driver’s license.
** Early Summer 2013: Got his driver’s license.
** Late Summer 2013: Flipped Karl Malone’s golf cart while driving it.*
** Summer 2014: “Doing some fun work” (via @Enes_Kanter):
* Karl simply got out of the cart and pushed it back up.
Four. Gordon Hayward on his experience with the U.S. national team:
I really enjoyed playing with Team USA this summer, and felt good about the way I played. I left the experience feeling like I did everything the right way. They told everybody from the beginning that they were trying to put the best team together for this tournament. Ultimately, they just decided to go a different route with the roster.
The way I interpreted it, they basically eliminated the swing position, and decided to go small on guards, and big on the bigs, instead of going with guys who were more versatile and could do a little of each. There are other teams in the World Cup that are pretty big, so I think they wanted to make sure they were big enough to compete against them.
Five. Memo Okur and Shawn Bradley on the golf course (via @MehmetOkur13):
To close, a recollection from Karl Malone on the 1992 Olympics medal ceremony:
I did the corniest thing that I never thought I would do. The national anthem played, and you see every athlete–what do every athlete do with the gold medal? They bite on it. I’m sitting there saying to myself, “Gah, that is so dorky. You gonna bite on it and do what?”
And then, all of a sudden, what do I do? I bit on it…So I just remember when I bit on it, I’m like, “Karl Malone, that it is the dorkiest thing you ever done.”
Rudy Gobert seems to be making a difference for France at the FIBA World Cup…
Well, you know, playing time, as Rudy has really matured and had an opportunity, both playing with us last year, and then seeing the pro–the growth per, that he is making, individually on his game, and feeling more comfortable at, in the professional ranks, it’s been really enjoyable to watch and see that kind of (audio skips) that he’s made.
It’s, it reminds me a little bit of one that we all got to experience, kind of a big, tall man, that as he had an opportunity to really experience the professional game, with Mark Eaton, that, of how they were able to really take advantage of it, and really make a difference. And I really think over some time, I’m very hopeful and really high on the possibilities that Rudy can really help make a difference for the Utah Jazz.
Gobert didn’t get a ton of playing time last year, so how can you gauge how much he’s improved from the end of last year to now?
Well, I think number one, with Quin [Snyder], you’re gonna see more playing time with Rudy Gobert. And he’s earned it; he’s paying the price. And I think, again, we’ve always said players have to, they don’t just get playing time. They have to earn it.
But I see the time and the effort that Rudy has put into the gym this last off-season. He’s, and if he continues on that path, he’s gonna earn some good playing time with the Utah Jazz, and that’s very important. He’s putting, he’s put the time in to really, also, and as he gets older, his body keeps now going from being a young man to more of a man’s body. And I’ve seen, really, strength, that Rudy’s, he’s developing more strength as well.
And I’ll tell you, in the game, the professional game, getting pushed around there, you’ve gotta be able to push back. And he’s paying that price as well. And so I think that’s going to really bode very well for Rudy in being able to be able to be on the court, because he can be able to hold his own ground.
So I think those are some of the things we’re gonna be looking at, and I think, you know, those are, what he’s been able to accomplish and the experience he’s now had at the World Cup is gonna be, I think, another great stepping stone of giving him some confidence and giving him the comfort level: “Hey, I have the, I deserve to be on the floor. I’m gonna, I want to be on the floor, and I’m gonna pay the, am I working hard enough to be able to get on there.” So, I think we’re seeing a lotta good signs.
Have you gotten any progress reports on any of your other players?
I’ve been really excited with what we’ve ha–what this last week [of open gym]…We’ve had here, literally this week, everyone on our team, with the exception of Gordon [Hayward], and we’ve intentionally wanted Gordon to have a little down time, ’cause he was very heavily involved in July and August in building up for the World Cup…[and] Rudy and [Brock] Motum and also Dante Exum, because of their participation on Australia’s team.
Everyone else has been here working with the coaching staff and doing some conditioning. And I’ll tell you, I am really excited about what I’m seeing, with what coach is implementing, with the uptempo that we’re looking at, with the defensive intensity that we’re talking about. The pacing of these practices are very impressive.
And as I was sitting next to Jerry Sloan two days ago when we were kind of watching the workouts and the open gym process, Jerry said, “You know what? I’ve yet to see any of these players that don’t look like they’re in shape.” And that’s a very good sign.
We’ve had years where all of a sudden, the players have been coming in and we can see that they have not been paying the price to keep themse–their bodies in shape, and so they think they’re gonna use training camp to get in shape. Well, that’s not Jazz basketball. We expect players to be coming in in, literally, game shape by the time they’re here. And as we’ve watched them working out here, our players have really been paying the price.
Leadership Question of the Week: If one of the players doesn’t show up to camp in shape, who on your team will be the one to call him out?
Well, you know what, and that’s a very good question. And that’s one thing with a young team that we have, and, that I’ve appreciated, is I’ve reviewed some of the materials and information that Quin is talking about. Right now, I th–because we have this young team, our coaching staff is gonna take that role.
But one of the things that I know that we’re looking at is not only developing our players offensively, defensively, and on the court, but we’re also having discussions, there’s discussions about teaching and training of leadership. Because we’ve got to identify, and as much identify, we’ve got to develop some players also in their dev–in their leadership skills so that they take that role and allow the coaches to not have to do all of that leadership.
We see more coming from maybe a Gordon Hayward and a Derrick Favors, of making those same comments to players if they’re not rising to Jazz quality as a player.
How is Jerry Sloan doing? What’s his role with the team?
Well, Coach is, his involvement with the Utah Jazz is felt in so many different fronts. It’s very interesting to watch the awe and the respect that our players and our young coaching staff have, to see that when they come in here and step on the floor, that there in the s–in the, our stands here at our practice facility, Coach Jerry Sloan is still passionate about the Utah Jazz, is still over here doing the hard things, doing the behind-the-scenes, unglamorous things.*
He’s here at the workouts and the practice, watching. And that’s one of the things I love about Jerry Sloan. He’s about loving the game of basketball, and loving the process that it takes to be great. And a lotta that process isn’t the glamorous stuff, of when you’re walking out and there’s 20,000 people in our EnergySolutions and you’re playing for those championship games or playoff games.**
It’s about what you’re doing in the quiet times to prepare yourself as a team to get to that point. And that’s what I think is very impressive of, about Jerry, being there, and his presence being there.
He, then, is a person that is there, that also, Quin came up and while we were talking, actually, bounced a couple of things off him* and says, “O–when you were coaching, how did you handle this situation?” Or “How did you handle this kind of defensive setup, and, or these type of drills?” And Jerry could just bounce off him, and, or reconfirm to Quin, you know what, I did it the same way you’re doing it.* Here’s s–or here’s an idea you might want to think about.
That, those kind of, that institutional knowledge of a Jerry Sloan, from the last 25 years of coaching, plus the years of playing, is invaluable for, also, for Quin and his staff to glean from. So, those are some of the ways that we’re using.
** Technical note: The Jazz have never played a championship game at EnergySolutions Arena.
Has Deron Williams ever talked with you, or do you have any impression that he regrets the part he played in Jerry Sloan’s resignation?
We developed a very good friendship. Deron has, to me, a lot of very strong and very good qualities, that I think he has, Deron was young and immature on some things. I know, he hasn’t, he didn’t say it directly to me, but I know from very reliable sources that, his comment was, he says, if he could do it all over again, he would not have pushed and, as, the way that he did. And that he made some mistakes.* …
And I think he went, as he then went to Brooklyn and realized, “Okay, let’s play for the–one of these big markets.” There’s some attractive things to it. But there’s also some real challenging things if you’re trying to be a father, and a husband, and it, just logistics of even getting around to get to practices, and then get to arenas. It’s, there’s some challenges that go with it, and they realize how great it is, it, particularly in this community to play.
And that’s, tha–it’s been really gratifying for me, to now hear those comments. And I gotta respect Deron for having the courage to stand up and actually defend this community and make people aware of it.** A lot of people [are] coming now, and more and more. This, people’s ability to travel around is so much easier now.
* I’d love to hear Deron’s take on this.
** Um…Here’s the Deron Williams quote Rigby is referring to:
“I’m not going to lie. I don’t really feel so much like a New Yorker. I grew up in an apartment in Texas where you could send your kids outside like ‘yeah, go play in the sun.’ Here it’s more challenging. The process of getting them into school is a nightmare. Even private schools where you pay are an ordeal. In Utah, you just send your kids to the first public school in the area because they’re all great. Truth is, we enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle and going back to Utah every summer. It’s a relief to take that timeout. No traffic. No crowds. My daughters still have their friends there. There’s a big backyard. They go to the pool; the playground and they jump on the trampoline. Kids running wild and free here…? I don’t think so.” (Resident)
To me, Deron is more complaining about New York than “defending” Utah. To characterize these comments as “having the courage to stand up and actually defend this community and make people aware of it” smacks of insecure desperation to latch onto any positive comment and blow it out of proportion, which I assume was not Rigby’s intent.
One other thought: It’s frequently been mentioned on social media how the Williamses must love Utah because Deron’s wife and kids lived in Utah this past year. With the kids back in New York and attending school there this fall, I wonder if the reason they were in Utah was because they couldn’t get into the schools they wanted in New York last year? *shrug*
Excluding John Stockton and Karl Malone, is there one player that you can think of, that it just so hard to see him go?
The one that probably I got to know in a really deeper way as well was Jeff Hornacek. And it was really hard, because Jeff, as Jeff was coming back and getting involved at, I had numerous conversations with him and, in trying to help, also, mentor Jeff ’cause I knew he wanted to get back involved in, also, coaching.
And so, and to talk with him about, saying, “Jeff, you know what, the, it’s a new age of coaching as well, and so here are some of the things that you need to think about, not only just on coaching the Xs and Os on a basketball court, but also what we, as presidents of organizations and our owners expect from you to do to help us as well, with fans, with ticket sales, with sponsorships. And so, you have to be, there’s much more to it now.”
And w–it was fun to kinda help mentor him and kind of preparing to be a all-around coach. And so, it was, you know, and to see him then get the opportunity, which I was really excited for, with Phoenix, though it was hard to see him go. And he’s just a great human being, and contributed a lot to the Jazz organization, both on and off the court.
Gordon Monson: I thought you were gonna say Luther Wright.
Rigby: I luckily didn’t get as close to Mr. Wright.
Spencer Checketts: You weren’t out playing the bongos or whatever?*
Rigby: No. No. (1280)
* Making fun of mental illness. Wow, SO hilarious.
What are you seeing from your players that are playing in the FIBA World Cup?
Yeah, yeah. So, Justin Zanik and I, we were able to make it over to Granada, Spain for a couple days. We saw Rudy [Gobert] and Raul [Neto], and then we spent another two days in Gran Canaria to see Australia and Dante [Exum] play. And so, as you would imagine, it, there, each guy’s at a much different stage of their career with the national team.
Dante’s always been kind of the premier guy on the U-17, U-18, U-19 teams. Even sometimes as a younger player, and now he’s getting his first introduction to the men’s national team.
And we really like the Australia program. We had a little bit of a relationship with them previously with my days in San Antonio, and they have a bunch of neat programs. They literally have a program on teaching their players how to be a mate, how to be a teammate. And all the protocols that young players have to go through in the NBA is somewhat similar to what Australian basketball institutionalizes. So, we’ve really appreciated that.
Dante is, we were in the lobby together and he was telling me he was, they had a roommate. So, for 31 straight days at this point in time, you know, he’s had a roommate in his room with him, who happens to be the team captain for the Australian national team [Joe Ingles]. So, he’s been indoctrinated, of, with playing against men, and the speed, the physicality.
One game a few games back, he was able to get 31 minutes and put some good marks on the board. When he played and when we saw him, it was much shorter minutes and he was able to create shot opportunities…We think he’s, has great character, and we look forward to helping him develop his talents over the next couple of years.
With Rudy, he’s a year or two ahead of where Dante is, developmentally, being 22 years old, even though there’s a age, chronological gap there of 19 to 22. But Rudy’s able to, he’s been able, in the last year, to gain strength, and so his play early in the FIBA friendlies, if you will, was really prolific.
He had several double-doubles in big-minute games, but much like Dante, as some of the other players have come back to the national team, his role has been more of a backup the last few games. And he’s been very efficient, I think shooting close to 70 percent from the field. Been really good on the glass, and a great presence with his size and length.
And his frame of mind was really, you could see not only physical maturity, but mental maturity. And so, I think he’s made a compelling case to move from more of a situational player for us last year to an everyday player, and, but, you know, Quin [Snyder] has to make those decisions–Quin and his staff–going forward.
And then with Raul, Raul has, much like Dante, he was lucky enough to be part of a national team that, at 18, 19 years old, there’s not many point guards in Australia, or Brazil, that he’s had to experience not playing everyday, and, those early years, and now he’s moved into more of a, an every-game role.
And here at the last two games, I think the game before last, he had 14 and 10, and last game he had 21 points and shot 9 of 10 from the field, and we’re just thrilled with his work ethic and improvement, and we look forward to the day to bring him to the club.
Some people say, “Dante Exum was a high draft pick. Shouldn’t he be able to be dominant at a thing like the World Cup?”* Would you explain that to folks?
Yeah, yeah sure. Well, you know, look, Dante’s gonna have to play well. We picked him very early, and we expect that. But we didn’t draft Dante Exum to be the quickest contributor in the NBA. There were probably other players that we could’ve selected that would have made a, more of an immediate impact.
When we make draft decisions, there’s, sometimes you want to make a real conservative pick, if you will, and there’s other times where you want to take as much risk associated with the pick. And players are much like stocks, right? IPOs, the earlier you’re getting in, the more potential for return is. And with Dante, again, we made a pick based upon projections.
He just turned 19, so he’s either a, an old freshman this year, going into his freshman year in college, or a very young sophomore. But again, there’s world class speed, and length, and each stop along the way, when Dante’s played with his age group or an age group above, if you wanna go look at those stats, and his production has been just superior.
And so, again, I know you set this question up on the tee for me, but I’m more concerned about how Dante Exum’s going to perform at 24, 25, 26 than I am [at] 19 or 20. Now, if we’re, of course you have to live in the years of 19 and 20 to get those maturity years going forward, but we look forward to the journey with him.
And we just got a letter from his national team coach, Andrej Lemanis. He’s an excellent coach, and the letter was very positive about [Exum's] talent and his skill level and his approach and all the things. We just gotta help him develop the gifts, so it, again, it was a long-term play.
* I want to say I can’t believe there are people out there that think like this…but sadly we all know better.
Which FIBA rules would you like to see implemented in the NBA?
I think a great thing, if we could ever figure it out–and look, TV money pays all of our salaries, right? That’s the reason why we have jobs, is because the media are associated with television. But I think if we could learn from international basketball where there’s no live ball timeouts, to keep the flow going.*
I think it’s the one lesson we can learn from soccer. It’s not really scoring that makes European football the world’s most popular sport. It’s continuous action.** And I just remember, maybe it’s me being an old fogey, but back in the ’86, ’87, ’88, and the Celtics-Lakers, and that Laker team that could go on that 27-4 run, and there wasn’t as many TV timeouts. There wasn’t as many coaching timeouts, so you could get that uninterrupted action.
I, so when you go and see a basketball game in Europe, the game is not as athletic, but the game flows better because there’s less timeouts, there’s less TV timeouts.*** One of my pet peeves in college basketball…is that situation where there’s a timeout, there’s a possession back and forth, and then there’s another TV timeout. And why we as fans put up with that situation, it makes our game less watchable.****
So I really believe in continuous action, so if we could eliminate a timeout and figure out a way for our TV partners to still sell ads, you know, where they’re going to want to sponsor our game, it would be good for all parties involved.***** …
There’s that phenomenon in every sport, where what may be good for you to win the strategy, or win the game around strategy in that particular game, it may make it bad for the fans to come watch it. So are you really defeating the purpose at the end of the day?
*** YES YES YES YES YES!!!!
**** SO MUCH THIS!!!!!!!
***** #UDQM me and Lindsey (“continuous action”) all you want, but the man is speaking truth.
Can you give an update on Enes Kanter’s knee?
Enes has responded very favorably. We’ve been really conservative, per doctor’s and physical therapist’s orders, and we wanted to not skip steps with him and not get really impatient. I, Enes is in town and I just had that conversation. He’s very fit. He looks good. He’s obviously spent his time and worked very well the last few weeks to get in basketball shape.
We had some contact [training] today…but we’re not gonna let him transition for awhile. He’s not ready to go up and down and transition and still handle contact. So we’re gonna stagger that in, but, so we’re very pleased with where he’s at, and we think we have plenty of time from today’s date all the way to the end of training camp and into the preseason to get him ready for an NBA basketball game.
So, hopefully we won’t have any hurdles along the way that would slow us up, so, but he’s done well.
Are you any closer to figuring out if Kanter, Derrick Favors and even Rudy Gobert can play together?
Look, there, Derrick just turned 23. Enes is 22. Rudy just turned 22, and again, we’re f–I think at this stage in, of our evolution, when we went with a rebuild, it’s more about talent accumulation, and then we’re gonna have to figure out fit a little bit farther down the line.
Now, with that said, I do think Enes and Derrick can play together. Enes can really shoot the ball on the perimeter. Derrick had a great year last season rolling to the paint, and finishing and being really efficient.
I do think Derrick is r–working really hard to develop “four” skills, if you will, that would allow him in concept to play with Rudy. And look, there’s other players that we could have now that we haven’t had in the past that we could bring to the equation that would allow Rudy and Derrick to play together. So, I do think it’s possible…
You interject new coaches into the equation, new philosophies, and how guys fit and don’t fit. I think it’s really, at the end of the day when you wrap everything up, way premature to, for me to tell you how one seed’s gonna grow and another’s not…I think we’re still probably a year or so away from making those determinations.
Can you talk about Toure’ Murry?
So, another young player that has some defensive length. He’s a high-character player. He was a very good player at Witchita State. We have a lot of respect for the Witchita State program, and how they defend and how serious they are as a group, and so Toure’* came out of that program. Had to work his way up to the D-League. He got short minutes with the Knicks last year, but when he played, he played well.
We really like his length. He’s a guard that has had to convert to a point guard, but we do think his size and length is complementary to Trey [Burke], and we think his experience could be complementary to Dante. And just another good, young prospect that we want to take a long look at. (1280)
* Lindsey pronounced Toure’ “tor-RAY.”
Top pic via @VarejaoAnderson
I’m dying of the cuteness.