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Utah Jazz: Jazz's Knight is used to being teased about being a short man in a big-guy game

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 29 2008 12:27 a.m. MDT

Teammates who razz him about needing a step stool to reach the trainer's table to get taped up need to try harder to hit Brevin Knight with a zinger about his height he's never heard.

And, yes, he's heard that one before, but nice try.

Please try to resist calling him a Hobbit hoopster or a pint-sized player, too.

"I get every short joke," Knight said.

Some are even funny.

You'd have to even try harder to say something that would make him — all 5-feet-9 3/4 inches of him — feel inferior for being a vertically challenged athlete in a giant's game, though.

"I'm proud of my height," Knight said. "To say you can play in this league this long at this height I think is a compliment to how hard I worked to get to this point."

And while he's short by NBA standards, Knight definitely is looked up to by guys who tower over him.

Players like 6-foot-3 Deron Williams, who playfully teases his new teammate about being 5-7 with basketball shoes on, talk about the size of Knight's game and not the perceived lack of his size on the court.

Knight's talents are big; his leadership skills even bigger.

The Jazz definitely don't think they ended up on the short end of the deal they made to get Knight from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Jason Hart this summer.

"He's a guy I can learn from. He's been in this league for 12 years now. I think he's going to be good for this team," Williams said. "He can help us on the court, off the court. He's just going to be a great guy to have around."

Williams likes that he golfs, too. (Go ahead, ask how his short game is.)

And, yes, Knight good-naturedly rolled with the short jabs sent his way by his new backcourt buddy. Perhaps Knight, who's never averaged less than 1.25 steals, just remembered laughing all the way to the hoop after picking Williams' pocket a time or two or more in the past.

That, Williams said, happened at least once a game every time they'd play as opponents.

"He knows how to use his hands. He's quick. He's relentless," Williams said. "You think you go by him and you got a layup and then he comes from behind hitting the ball. He's definitely a different look."

Though his height might be a disadvantage in many aspects — especially taking and defending shots — the combination of Knight's quick hands, shifty speed and size give him an advantage in the steals department. He has swiped 1,161 steals in his 11 NBA seasons, including 100 last year in L.A.

"It just allows me to get around the court maybe a little bit easier, sneak between some guys, try to get as many steals as possible," Knight said.

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Jazz coach Jerry Sloan — who says he couldn't care less how tall a player is — sees another big advantage to Knight's smallness. Short guys usually play point guard from the playground on, so the position and accompanying responsibilities of handling and distributing the ball while facing teammates is second nature.

"Most guys that size, they've looked at the floor exactly the same their whole life," said Sloan, who wasn't making a short joke. "They've never played in the post. They've never played on the wings and they've never played off the ball. They've had the ball in their hands all their life. ...

"That's sometimes a tremendous advantage."

Knight agrees.

"That's what I am. I've been it all my life," he said. "I'm one thing. I'm a point guard."

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