Bits from Randy Rigby Interview, 9/10
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.