Raja Bell Press Conference Highlights
Audio can be found here.
–Randy Rigby: “It’s very refreshing in the world of sports and in life when you have an opportunity to talk with coaches, front office[s], owners, players, and every one of those people, if you talk about Raja Bell, from his character to his performance on and off the court, had nothing but positive things and thumbs up to say about adding him to the Utah Jazz.”
–KOC: “We’re really happy to have somebody back that’s as competitive and as caring about wins and losses as our head coaches, and they have a relationship that goes into that a lot deeper than most.”
–Raja: “On the court, it’s a situation where getting a chance to play for Jerry, a guy who puts so much stock in the same things that I put stock in, for me it’s a no-brainer. The things that I bring to the table as a player, or at least that I think I can bring to the table as a player, are things that Jerry really appreciates in players, and so for me selfishly I thought it was a really good fit.”
–“Coming into free agency, I was kind of chomping at the bit to get a chance to come back and play here, if the feeling was mutual.”
[Me here: I just have to say that Raja has a great smile.]
–Due to his wrist injury last season, he was able to spend the past year saving some miles, getting in shape, trimming body fat, and preparing for the upcoming season. Needs to get onto the court and play, but feeling good.
–On why he turned down Miami and LA:
“The opportunity was here for me to not so much be along for a ride. I really, really in my heart felt that those teams were made up already, and they were just trying to add people for insurance policies, and I don’t want to be an insurance policy. I want to come somewhere and compete every night and go out there and scrap…and I can sleep at night knowing that I’d given 110%, not knowing that I’d watched a whole ball game.”
–Likened playing for the Jazz to how a child benefits from a home with a solid foundation and good structure. “A place like this, where everbody knows what’s expected and is always fighting together for a common goal is really appealing. It was for me, and should be to a lot of guys in the NBA, especially as you’ve been around the teams and seen what’s going on out there. Also, with Jerry and Kevin, I haven’t found two straighter shooters in the NBA. I like people shooting me straight. If it’s good, if it’s bad, tell me what it is and I can work on it. I’ve got a lot of respect for that, so that’s one of the biggest factors in my decision.”
[I just need to reiterate that I love that Raja is old, veterany, and confident enough to call Jerry “Jerry.” Even Stockton and Malone don’t do that.]
KOC: “In the eleven years that I’ve been here, I’ve had one player call me after he left and tell me how hard it was to leave, and that he really had to agonize over it. And he called our head coach and did it, and we just thought that that was such a class act to do that.”
–Cancelled on Kobe one hour before their scheduled meeting. Once he got the offer from the Jazz, it took 45 minutes for him to talk it over with his family and decide to accept it.
–On Jazz fans:
“I HATE these fans when I’m on another team. They’re that good, they’re really good. It’s a testament to how good they are and how supportive they are of the Jazz. I come back and I actually saw a few jerseys in the stands, if there wasn’t already a place in your heart held for a town, it really secures that.”
–On the clothesline:
(whisper) “That cost me a lot of money. And I didn’t make any friends. David Stern was NOT happy with me after that.”
[I love him even more.]
From Raja’s Powerhouse interview:
–PH: You pin your hat on competition. Blue-collar worker, you get your hands dirty. Is there a coach that you familiarize with more than Jerry Sloan?
Raja: Absolutely not. That’s one of the things that I didn’t really find in the NBA, was another coach that really put stock in those same things. There are a lot of coaches that talk a good game. They’ll tell you they hang their hat on defense, they hang their hat on toughness, and before you know it, their true colors come out and it’s not necessarily about that. Jerry’s one of those guys that I always felt if you went out there and you busted your butt for him and you did what he asked you to do, and you played as hard as you could, that he had respect for it and he would give you an opportunity. That for me was all you could ask for in a coach.
–PH: What is this team missing, from what you’ve been able to observe?
Raja: It’s going to sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but you need someone, whether it be me or someone else, they definitely need someone to come in and really just put a bounty on someone’s head on the other end of the court and just make it their sole priority that night to lock them down…especially in the Playoffs in the West, when you’re dealing with guys like the Kobes of the world and even the Carmelos, you have to have someone whose priority it is, to lop the head off of that monster.
[ He SO gets us. <3 ]
From Raja’s ABC4 interview:
–“I’ve always held a special place in my heart for the city and for the fan base, because I really have some real fond memories. [It was the] first place anyone rang a bell for me. It was a really cool place to play.”
–On whether he wants/expects to start:
“Doesn’t matter to me. At this point, it’s about competing, it’s about playing for something and doing whatever I can to help the team achieve that goal. So if it’s starting minutes, that’s great. If it’s coming off the bench, I did that for Jerry a lot and I was really excited doing it for him. So, it’s all good.”