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Welcome to The Tribune’s new Utah Jazz newsletter, which has been renamed “How ‘Bout This Jazz” to match the rebranded podcast.
Everyone’s changing their name, I guess.
Either way, I’ll try to stay away from those long, verbose early posts that I really liked, and just bring you some quick hits from the week at Jazzland. Some will be serious. Some will not be so. Most of the time I’m just trying to give you a taste of things that I’m aware of as a beat writer that you might not be. And I’ll try different things every now and then and see what sticks.
Enough preamble. Here’s what stuck in my eyes and ears this week …
Two Rudy G
The Jazz have racked up the entire supply of league players named Rudy this season, with Gobert and Gay on the squad. The fact that they’re both Rudy G’s has apparently already led to occasional confusion over who to talk to in workouts.
âI am often caught off guard,â admitted Rudy Gobert. “In the France team, we have an assistant coach called Rudy, but he is not ‘RG’ – we have two RG. It takes time to adapt.”
Rudy Gay noted that as a newcomer he is destined to get a nickname to resolve the situation, but said the team has yet to fully decide on one, noting that “Ocho” ( Spanish for “8”, his new jersey number) and “Ocho Papi” were being heard. New Jazz announcer Holly Rowe playfully suggested âG Papi,â and he said he was a fan.
Jordan Clarkson, however, vetoed this with a laugh: “I don’t call anyone ‘G Papi’.”
Well, âFun Size Rudyâ it is, I guess.
Bogey Injury Update
After missing the Jazz’s first two preseason games – in part due to his small national duty in Croatia’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the Olympics, but mostly due to pain in the shoulder – Bojan Bogdanovic made his 2021-22 debut on Monday against New Orleans. . He also played in Wednesday’s preseason final against Milwaukee.
Before the Pelicans game, Bogey gave a self-deprecating response – something he’s very good at! – to a question about his health:
âI mean, I feel good. Obviously, I had a little problem with my shoulder. I am not 100%, but overall I am doing very well and in good health. So it’s good for me to play these two games too to get my cardio and my gambling back. I know it probably won’t be pretty, because I haven’t played for a while. But that’s why we play preseason games.
There has been a lot of attention from certain segments of the fan base on the growing importance of black and white color schemes around Jazz. It became something of an obsession on social media – to the point where owner Ryan Smith and co-owner Dwyane Wade had to respond and clarify rumors of an all-black-and-white set of uniforms on Wednesday.
Having said that, having been inside the ZBBC and seen its new design, I have to say that I like the new look. Not usually a huge fan of all black and white (the base set of Nets is boooooooring), but adding all the new brick cladding is actually a pretty cool look.
Now if they could just paint over that “Jake Note” script …
Video games and denigration
At the risk of upsetting the generation that maintains that “video games are a waste of time” … video games are an important component of the off-field interaction of Jazz players. Hassan Whiteside noted that they have been playing “Call of Duty: Warzone” collectively lately, and that he was shocked that Mike Conley was: 1) in the game; 2) Very good.
In fact, if you ask Mike (which I did) he’s very, very good at it. Asked who was the best resident video game player on the team, he replied, âIt depends on the game. If we play ‘Warzone’ it’s probably me. But they won’t tell you! It’s perfect. But we have a whole team of guys playing. This has been our secret over the past few seasons – we play ‘Call of Duty’ a lot off the pitch and always stay connected.
Then I asked him which game needed improvement: âYou know, I would have said Don, but he got better. He’s getting better. I don’t know if he put in cheaters or something.
This, of course, stands in stark contrast to Donovan’s self-proclaimed greatness at NBA2K (which included a few digs at his teammates Eric Paschall and Rudy Gay).
Donovan: âGrowing up, I was using the Raptors in 2K, playing against Eric, and eating his ass! You can quote it if you wish. But I used Rudy Gay every time as a kid. It was probably the first thing I said to her [when we met]. He said to me, ‘No, I’m not that old.’ I’m like ‘Fro, you’re old enough.’ It was a pretty cool time for Eric and myself.
Eric: âYes [Don] wants to believe it – I’m not even going to go into that. If it makes him happy to think thatâ¦ He didn’t destroy me. â¦ First thing [Rudy] said was, ‘I’m not that old!’ I was like, ‘Think about it 10 years ago. You were 25, I was 15. You’re old enough, Rudy! ‘ He always says he’s not that old, but he is.
Looks like Jazz now has a new target for “old” jokes beyond Mike and Joe Ingles.
Donovan in NBA 75th Season Video
The The NBA released a cool video promoting the 75th season in league history, and it showcases a stellar collection of talent past and present. Among the latter is a cameo appearance by Donovan, who briefly plays “The Big O” neighbor Oscar Robertson. Donovan opened up about being lucky enough to be in the video and what that meant to him.
âI’m just blessed to be a part of that, to be a part of this elite video or commercial, whatever you want to call it. I think for me to be a part of this project was amazing. Being on this set, I first met Oscar Robertson, I had a conversation with him. And just being able to see the greats that you’re in advertising with, and in this project with, I think that’s something that’s justâ¦ you just sit there like a kid [dreaming about it], and being able to say that this is something happening is really remarkable to me. I am truly blessed.
âAnd that motivates you. A lot of those things that I’m a part of now, that we do as a team and by myself, it’s one of those things where it’s like, “I wanna be them, I wanna be one of the most. big. ” You see Magic, you see Larry, you see Bill Walton, you see Oscar in the ad, these are the guys – and Kobe too, may he rest in peace – these are the guys that you grew up watching or have had heard. So now you are in that group, and now you have to go out there, as myself, and keep working and continue to drive to become, ultimately, one of the greatest. That’s why we play this game, that’s why I play. But I’m just lucky enough to be in this conversation and continue to build and continue to be the best player I can be.
Rudy Gobert is a deviously funny guy. It is quite pleasant to interact with. My cover partner, Andy Larsen, previously talked about how rhythm writers got in practice the other day, watching Rudy do cross dribbles, spinning moves, and 3-point jumpers.
Then when he wandered into the interview room after the Pelicans game wearing a fuchsia velor tracksuit, Rudy’s Week reaches its absolute zenith.
Asked about the fit, he chose not to address fashion, but rather its utility, simply noting: âIt’s cold.