Bits from Randy Rigby Interview, 8/7
Why were you recently in Aspen?
Well, it was a global sports summit. This is the second year that Greg [Miller] has asked me to attend, and it’s a very fascinating summit. It comprises of owners, and CEOs and presidents of major sports, from, of course, basketball, football, baseball. They had European soccer* as well there, and MLS as well.
So it’s very interesting, and they talk about really hard-hitting issues that owners and CEOs should be thinking about, and I, we really enjoyed it.
What floats to the top of the list?
Well, a couple of things float to the top of the list. Of course, a lot of teams are looking at managing of their asset, being the players. And then we had some discussions on those.
Then they had some big, good discussions about actually arenas, and you’re seeing a lot of discussion about arenas. Of course, you have some new arenas that have been, and some arenas that have been, improvements made on ’em.
And then you also have issues that digitally is a very big issue, and we had some very interesting discussion on that yesterday from, they had Bob Bowen, Bowman, from Major League Baseball who came and had very interesting insights on that topic.
* “European soccer” … we have another classic Rigbyism!
Do NBA teams have any say in the schedule?
We have feedback on the schedule. Not who we’re playing. But really, we have a chance, as you get into, around, February, March, we actually submit to the league games of which, and dates that we have to protect, and there’s certain things that arenas all have, you know, and we have ice shows that we have long-term commitments on.
So we kind of put in when we usually like to have the team on the road, and, or back, and so we actually look at different sched–times that we actually–they’ll give you some flexibility of saying we have to have these dates that we, a game is going to be played.
Coach Corbin had such a difficult task last season keeping the locker room together. What excites you the most about next season?*
What comes to my mind is, you know, we’ve heard this community constantly saying, you know, “You’ve got some great young talent. Why are they not, we want ’em playing more. You know, Tyrone [Corbin] oughta be playing the young guys more.”
Well, we’re going to be, what’s gonna be exciting to me is, we’re going to have that opportunity now this year…and I’m excited to see how they respond to the bell. Let’s see what now they’re going to do during the off-season, and we really like what we’re seeing right now.
The work ethic that we’re seeing from The Derrick [Favors], and Enes [Kanter], and The Gordon [Hayward], and Alec [Burks]. We’re gonna see, we were excited about the Trey Burke acquisition as our first pick, and it’s gonna be fun to see these young players actually respond, and how well they can do and improve throughout the season.
* Such unparalleled #journalism by Spencer Checketts.
Are you worried the young guys will get their heads kicked in on long road trips?
You know what? To me, that’s part of the growing process for a championship-caliber team, and if a player is a, who we think they are, and who they think they are, they need to go through, they’re gonna have to go through that process, sooner than, sooner than later.
And we’ve elected to make this soon. And it’s happening this year. And there gonna be some of that. But you know what? We have a very seasoned coaching staff that is very good at that.
I, it’s great that we also have some, even some of the, those advisors like a Jerry [Sloan], that people can then also look to, or a Karl Malone that, and Karl’s having those discussions a little bit with, also, Derrick Favors.
But so is Sidney [Lowe], and Ty, and our coaching staff are very good at being able to talk through these guys. They’re with these guys all the time, and they’re talking through ’em, and they’re seasoned guys who’ve not only coached, but they’ve also played the game. And they’re good at being able to talk with them about going through these experiences.
Are Jerry Sloan and Karl Malone’s roles with the team becoming more concrete?
We’re just gonna take it kind of a step at a time, as we go into this season. Again though, we respect, Jerry respects the real role falls on our coaching staff.
And Jerry is in no way taking over that role or usurping any of that authority. He’s there as a support. Karl Malone is in no way taking over the authority of our coaching staff or our front office. Those people are there as a support and not to really take the lead.
Paul Millsap, class act
We got today, also, a very nice letter. And in fact, my assistant, Judy Adams, said in her 25 years [with the Jazz], it’s the first time ever, she says, we’ve heard people say thank you, but actually Paul Millsap wrote a very nice letter to the Jazz organization saying, “You know what? You’ve, over seven years’ time, you’ve done a great thing for me and my family and I want to say thank you for all you’ve meant and all you’ve done for the Utah Jazz.”
And you know what? That was a class act from Paul Millsap. And I really appreciated, you know, the time Paul gave us and the job that he did in Utah.
Randy, you are a master promoter and you know how to push a product. What would you tell the fans if there are long losing streaks next season?
Well, I think a couple of things, that we want our fans to know. And the thing that the Jazz has always taken pride in is, we have very educated and smart fans. You can’t fool your basketball fans. The market responds and knows, and we recognize that. And so, we’ve always tried to be honest and direct* and, with our fans, and I think they’ve appreciated that.
[The other things are arena improvements and game experience improvements.]
* I personally disagree with this. For so much of past 2.5 seasons, it seemed like some members of the front office tried to be anything but honest and direct.
How would you handle a Shabazz Muhammad situation?
I don’t have in front of me all the facts, and I think you need to have all the facts to really make the decision.
But the most important decision that we make in our organization, I think, is we do, we spend a lot of time, and I appreciate the time that Dennis [Lindsey] and Kevin [O’Connor] make in literally, and the whole coaching staff and basketball operations, we really put our potential picks in a battery of discussions and questioning of really, and we do a lot of homework, to try to really understand, and try to hopefully minimize those kind of problems, in who they are, their character and what they stand for.
And then we try to really instill on them who we are, and what it means when you put on a Jazz uniform, what that’s gonna mean. And if you’re not going to stand for that, you know what, we’re not gonna stand for you. And we’ll deal with it swiftly and appropriately.*
* Coaches are exempt.
Is there anything else you would like to promote?
I mean, literally, the exciting thing going on right now is the Tour of Utah coming right up from the south to the north of Utah, and it’s gonna be here this week. And that is, it’s an exciting. I know the work that has gone on with our folks from the Tour of Utah.
It’s really, to put those events on, in those stages and then pick ’em up in the middle of the night and move it to the next location, in literally six constant days, is a monumental task and it’s fascinating to watch this. …
The other thing I want people to do is, now that they’re looking at this Jazz schedule, I’d really hope that our fan base will say, “This is an exciting young team. Let’s figure out when, what we can do to come out and get behind this team.”
Because they’re going to see this young team that’s gonna really start growing and developing, and we need our fans. And we got great fans, but I’m hoping that our fans will open up their hearts and their pocketbooks to come figure out when they can come to one or two games, or a group of games.
You know, I look right here and say, there’s eight games that, in a lot of ways I’d say, these are must-have games, must-times I need to come out and really enjoy seeing not only Jazz basketball, but N–the best of the NBA coming in here, and playing. And we’re gonna give ’em a good show. (1280)