Bits from Orrin Hatch Interview, 4/1
Introduction by Randy Rigby
We’re always just thrilled to have Senator Hatch. We’re trying to make this team better. He’s trying to make this country better. So with that one-two punch, you know, you can never go wrong.
What life lessons did you learn from sports that you’ve used in your career?
Sports builds character. It builds leadership. If you’re really taught by a good coach, you’re gonna come out of it a better person…I’m a great believer in sports as a teaching tool for young men and women. And you know, I’m really pleased at how this country has turned to basketball like it has. It was invented here; why shouldn’t we?
** Orrin Hatch on Muhammad Ali and golf, unintentional dirty quote machine: Ali would sit on one hole with me, and I’d play the hole over and over and over, and all day.
On Utah Jazz coaches
I’m a big fan of Jerry Sloan’s. I thought he was one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever known, plus a great human being to boot. And Quin Snyder had to come in, and even though there were interim coaches who I liked — Ty Corbin and so forth; good guys — I have to say that I’m really impressed with our coach today.
He’s doing a great job, and I understand, you know, Coach Sloan shows up to help with the team. Yeah, these are exceptional people, and for Quin Snyder to pull this team along like he has, and to — you know, we got the youngest team in the league or the second youngest team in the league. And I gotta tell you, he’s got ’em working together and seems to have ’em all pretty happy now.
What are you five favorite sports?
Well, it’s easy to say pro basketball. Pro baseball. Pro–NFL. Hockey, I’ve never been that big on hockey, but I know people really love it. I happen to watch, I happen to like girls’ basketball, or women’s basketball. You know, I’m amazed at how good they are. I wouldn’t have even made the tea–the women’s team back in the days when I was playing, they’re so good. And you know, golf is a big thing to me. …
My main interest in sports happens to be every university out here, and certainly Utah State University, Utah, BYU and their efforts. And also the Utah Jazz. I mean, let’s face it. If there’s a Jazz fan that’s any more rabid about it than I am, I’d like to shake his hand, or her hand.
On his friendships with Karl Malone, John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek
I became a really good friend of both, well, of a number of the Jazz members. I don’t mean to leave any out, but Karl Malone’s a really good friend, and I think the world of him. John Stockton just called me out of the blue the other night, two nights ago, or maybe it was three ago. And I said, “What can I do to help you?”
And John said, “No, I just wanted to call you and let you know I care,” and we had a nice conversation there. Talked about his boys that are playing semi-pro, well, pro ball, in Europe. And I talk to Karl every once in a while.
[Jeff] Hornacek, I’m proud as can be of him. I think he’s been a great coach there with the Phoenix Suns, and he’s one of the great people. He and Stockton used to stay pretty close together when they went out of town, and they were both exceptional Catholic people, and I just care a lot for them.
I have a pair of John Stockton’s shoes and one of his basketballs in a glass case in my library in Washington. Used to have it out in the front, but without asking me, they put it in my library. But it’s very good there, because we see all kinds of important people in that library. But I’m very proud of that, to be honest with you.
So, you’ll be greeting Barack Obama when he comes to Utah?
Well, I intend to greet him. Well, we’re friendly. And I, we know each other. He called me just the other day and asked me to do everything I can to get the trade promotion authority bill through, which is critical to what’s called TPP — the Trans-Pacific Partnership of 11 nations — to trade with us. Japan being very, very important there, and put pressure on China.
And he also, he’s also ver–you know, it’s very critical for the, what we call the TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership], which is 28 European nations, 29 with us, that if we could put these together, it would be one of the greatest trade set of agreements, that, in the history of the world.
And that would be a great legacy for him. It would be the one legacy I think he can point to. I don’t know that he has many others. But he’s a charming man, there’s no question about it. I think, I don’t agree with him. I think that he must hate the Congress ’cause he — you know, he called me the other day and we’ve, had a very nice conversation.
I’m looking forward to him coming here. I always show great deference to whoever is president, and I certainly show great deference to him. But we disagree on almost everything. So, and I just hope that we can work together for the remaining two years of his presidency.
What is your attitude toward the power that you wield and your approach to it?
You’re gonna have success if you understand that you’re working for the people [and] you’re not working for yourself. You’re working for your people and your state, and no, I don’t think anybody doubts that I’ve helped do a lot for this state…
I actually enjoy doing things that help our state, but also help our country. This country’s still the greatest country in the world, but we could lose it because of some of the attitudes that are out there, that, where there’s not the same fealty or dedication to our country that I’ve seen in the past.
There’s still a lotta people in this country that are dedicated to it. It’s still the greatest country in the world. I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve gotta tell you, I, every time we land, wherever we land in this country, I wanna get on my knees and kiss the ground. I’m not kidding you.
I’ve had, when you, and I’ve been to all the great countries in this world, and, among a lot of smaller ones, and I wouldn’t trade what we have at the worst with them at the best. This is a great country, and all of us oughta be grateful all the days of our lives that we’re citizens of this great land.
So how do you re-engage people?
Well, I do think you have to have presidential leadership. And I have to say, you know, I lived through a nu–a variety of presidents, from Jimmy Carter through today. And there were some of ’em who would engage very, very well, and who, people wanted to bend over backwards to work with. Knowing that this country, if you would work with it, work with you, and that this is the greatest country in the world.
We’re losing some of that respect right now, and I hate to see it. And there’s no reason for it, and I’m hoping that the ’16 elections will make a real difference in the future.
Breakdown of current Jazz players
I think Trey Burke is gonna really be good, and I love this new, these two young people from Australia. [Dante] Exum is gonna be a great player. He’s gotta, just has to improve somewhat, and, but he will on his shooting, but he’s certainly been a great stopper and great defensive player. And I think [Joe] Ingles is, he’s a great addition to the team.
How about Rudy Gobert?
I love that guy. I’ll tell you, you know, I’m glad to see him have this chance that he has…If he had a little more beef, he would shove around all those big guys inside, and he’s a real protector of the rim, I’m not kidding you, and Utah Jazz have needed that for a long time.
Remember when we had that great 7-4 center, who I happen to love as a human being, and every team in the league wanted him even though they thought he was not athletic e–you know, tremendously athletic, but nobody came down through the center, ever, against him. And I think Gobert can re–can be all of that and maybe even more. I think he’s gonna be a, he is gonna be great. He’s already great.
And of course, you look at [Derrick] Favors. My gosh, he’s a horse in there. I think Favors is really, really good. And Gordon Hayward, I think the new haircut has made him even better. (1280)