Utah Jazz small forward DeMarre Carroll wants to be known for his hard work
Nothing's changed since then, well, other than the Jazz picking up their team option for this season and Carroll fine-tuning his shot and continuing to fling his body around in practices, scrimmages and games like his job depends on it.
Allen thinks his 6-foot-8 friend might've gotten disheartened in Memphis playing behind up-and-comers Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo. The Grizzlies' guard is convinced his rookie became determined to work harder after that and again after Denver cut him last December.
"He learned from his situation and I'm glad he's blossomed on the other end," Allen said.
He paused slightly and flashed a slight grin in the pregame interview. "With all that said, I'm going to bust his (behind) tonight every chance I get."
Sure enough, the professor's elbow ended up smacking his pupil's tooth into the back of his mouth that night in Memphis. Carroll suffered a mild concussion and required oral surgery to repair the damage.
"It had to be Tony Allen of all people. It's just how he plays. You know that. Physical. Kind of dirty," Carroll said, almost admiringly. "Man, he's wild. But he does what his team needs. He (is) a good dude … got a good heart."
And a wicked elbow.
But Allen is one heckuva mentor when he's on your side.
Now Carroll hopes to continue emulating his style with the Jazz.
"You need those type of guys on every team — guys who will get out there, get dirty and hustle, get them extra possession," Carroll said. "In the end you know it's true, every extra possession you get is good for the team. You've got to know your role and that's my role on this team."
Still, Carroll was given the challenge to work on his outside shot to become "more valuable." Not surprisingly, he spent hours punching the clock in the gym to become a more accurate 3-point threat, hoping to continue finding playing time after filling an important role as a temporary starter during the Jazz's playoff run last spring.
Working his way back into a starting position is a goal. For now, he simply hopes to earn a relevant role behind starting small forward Marvin Williams.
"I've always been a team player and I always will," Carroll said. "I'm one of them guys who's a nitty-gritty guy, a blue-collar guy who's going to grind every day."
Carroll has many more characteristics. He is an antagonizing trash-talker who believes, "Once I get them whining to the ref, I know I'm doing my job." He's physical and relentless on the court, but also appreciative and spiritual off the court.
Both of the Alabama-raised Carroll's parents are ministers. That religious background comes through often when he tweets to fans that he's "Blessed" and encourages them to "Stay Positive." Those attitudes have helped him handle personal challenges, including dealing with a rare liver disease that might eventually require a transplant. He was also once shot in the ankle during a nightclub fight in Columbia, Mo., in college.
"Every day, I pick up the basketball and come out here and play and run up and down the court, and then you've got some people that have no legs and can't even get up out of the bed," Carroll said, reflecting on his spirituality.
"I'm just blessed for every moment … so that's why I just say every day I'm blessed," he added. "I just like to give credit to God because without God I wouldn't be here."
A heaven-bent, humble hard worker with happening hair.
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