Utah Jazz players reflect on treasured tournament moments

Published: Thursday, May 3 2012 11:00 p.m. MDT

But those postseasons aren't his best memories. It took some coaxing to get him to dig into his memory bank.

"I'm not a fun type of guy," he said, joking (maybe).

Eventually, Millsap took a stroll down the lane that landed him back at Grambling High School in Louisiana. The Kittens went 30-0 in District 2-1A play while he was there, but the game that sticks out was a semifinal in which he set a rebounding record.

"Our team actually won that game and went to the championship," he said. "It was a moment for me then. That's about it."


The former hopping Hilltopper played well and led Western Kentucky to the Sun Belt championship in 2008.

"I was killing it," Evans said, grinning.

Even though he personally didn't play quite as well the next year, WKU's 2009 conference title remains his sweetest memory.

The reason?

The tournament took place in Arkansas (Hot Springs) — an easy 140-mile drive from his hometown, Crossett.

"Just cutting down the nets, (and) my family and people from Arkansas were right there," Evans said. "The year before I got MVP of the tournament. I'd rather take (being) home, family. Special. Everybody can't say that."


The point guard was hurt going into the playoffs early in his career with the Indiana Pacers. Because of an ankle injury, he wasn't sure he'd play against the Boston Celtics in the early 2000s.

But Tinsley gutted it out — and Indiana eventually overcame Boston, too.

"Not knowing if I was going to play or not, I was just like, 'Let me try,' " Tinsley said. "I was just going off adrenaline. I was hurting. My ankle was hurting bad and I just played through it."

The Celtics beat Tinsley's Pacers in the first round, 4-2, in his second season even though he had some strong outings. Thanks in part to his play, Indiana bounced back to sweep Boston out of the opening round in 2004.


Before 2009, South Atlanta High School had never won a state basketball championship. This McDonald's All-American changed that by totaling 38 points and 21 rebounds against Westover to give his alma mater its first Class AAA title.

"Me and my teammates, we all grew up together," 20-year-old Favors said, "so that was a pretty special moment."

Favors said his team was favored every year, but they had problems escaping the first round until his final try.

"For my senior year to win the state, with all my friends," he said, "it was pretty cool."

And the celebration?

"We really couldn't do nothing. We was high schoolers," he said. "(Where) we played the state championship game was an hour-and-a-half away from Atlanta, so we got back late. Pretty much everybody just went home and went to sleep because we had school the next day.


The last time these veterans were on the same team, their squad made an NBA finals run. That was in 2006 with the Dallas Mavericks.

Perhaps that's a good omen for the struggling Jazz. Regardless, it's the playoff time closest to their hearts.

"Not too many guys can say they made it there. I was one of the few. I'll take that all day," Howard said. "Just to get to that point, to have that mental capacity to stick through it after the season's over with and go into that playoff series … that speaks a lot about players."

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