Two teams later, Kyle Korver keeps making positive impact in Utah
Former Jazz forward has soft spot for Utah
SALT LAKE CITY — During his last season with the Utah Jazz, Kyle Korver set an NBA record by shooting 53.6 percent from beyond the 3-point line.
Want to know a stat that's even more impressive than his incredibly accurate 2009-10 shooting season and the 235 3-pointers he hit while wearing a Jazz uniform?
No, that wasn't the amount of marriage proposals he received during his Utah stay — he's married with a baby girl now, by the way. It's not how many times a day he was compared to Ashton Kutcher, either.
More remarkably, that number is how many wheelchair accessibility ramps the Utah division of the Kyle Korver Foundation, the SEER Group, has helped construct and install free of charge for Wasatch Front residents in need the past four years.
In a neat coincidence, construction on the 117th ramp began on Tuesday, coinciding with Korver's arrival in town ahead of tonight's NBA game between his new team, the Atlanta Hawks, and his old team, the Jazz.
That ramp, by the way, is being built for a single Utah mother with 11 adopted foster children, including six in wheelchairs.
For Korver, it's a way to give back to a community he learned to love and an opportunity to assist people in reaching places they otherwise wouldn't be able to get to without the help of his crew, led by SEER Group director Brad Mepham.
It's gratifying to Korver that people are still being helped out along the Wasatch Front even though he hasn't played for the Jazz in almost three seasons.
That shouldn't be a surprise considering his T-shirt company's motto is "For Uncommon Good."
Korver is two teams removed, but Utahns can attest that's still happening in Jazzland.
"It's gone really well there for sure," Korver said. "Kind of the whole heart of what we try to do is to find people in the different cities that we've played in and people who are really talented and have a big heart for helping out other people and try to help them do what they do."
In Utah, the foundation is able to build the ramps and custom-made handrails, which normally cost between $7,000-$10,000, through donations (email@example.com), local business contributions and volunteer work and through money raised from sales of his T-shirts and clothing line (seeroutfitters.com).
The plan is to keep the charity sustainable on its own, so that good works can continue to be produced.
"It's been that way so far," Korver said, "and so as long as the people who are involved want to keep on doing it and we're able, it'll keep on going."
Klay Korver, Kyle's brother who played at Drake University, oversees the NBA player's philanthropic efforts, which include different charities in the previous four places No. 26 has called home during his basketball career — from Omaha, Neb. (Creighton), to inner-city Philadelphia (Sixers), the Beehive State (Jazz) and multiple organizations in Chicago (Bulls).
Even non-basketball fans in 25 other NBA cities might root for Korver to end up on their team just for the good of the community, whose kids and needy benefit from the likes of clubs, camps and construction projects.
Though he's still settling roots in Atlanta, where he was traded last summer, Korver continues to help worthwhile movements through social media channels.
Klay said the foundation is constantly seeking ways to benefit those in need and asking, "How can we serve other people?"
The Korvers grew up with solid role models in their parents, who are on the foundation's board of directors.
"We value their wisdom and life experience," Klay Korver said. "We grew up watching our dad do inner-city work in Los Angeles."
The Korvers don't have an extensive background in building ramps. In 2009, they were informed that many Utah children and adults have that need because of accidents, abuse, injuries, genetic disorders, spinal cord issues, cerebral palsy, etc.
While Kyle Korver played for Chicago and Atlanta in 2012, Utahns benefited from the foundation.
Last year alone, SEER Group built 2,050 linear feet of ramps, including 28 structures for kids. That literally required tons of material — 14,000 pounds of concrete, 6,150 square feet of Trek decking, 5.5 tons of welded steel, 245 copper solar cap lights and 205 gallons of paint.
Those 41 ramps required 3,800 hours of donated service.
Total community value?
Klay Korver said they try to abide by this philosophy: "If you can do something for somebody, you do it because you can."
To that point, Klay said Kyle is a bit hesitant to take credit for the ramps and other charitable services that his foundation provides.
"What he does is enables people to do what they've always wanted to do and are passionate about," he said. "It's pretty neat."
This is also a great way for the Korvers to stay connected to a state where they forged many good recollections and relationships from 2007-10.
"I really liked Utah," Kyle Korver said. "I had a really good 21/2 years there, a lot of really good friends, a lot of good memories."
That was a pleasant surprise.
"Coming into it," he said, "I didn't really know what to expect with Utah."
It was his first trade (Philly got Gordan Giricek in return in late 2007). He left a comfortable environment to fly solo in Salt Lake City. A lot of things were "up in the air" in his life at the time.
But Jazz fans embraced him, and he embraced them back. That's what he remembers more than any successes the perennial playoff team had.
"I think it was more life there that I'll always remember. I really enjoyed playing for those fans," Korver said. "We had such a great home record there. It was like a college atmosphere every single night. It was fun to play basketball there."
Korver recalled the Jazz having struggles with a particular team from Los Angeles about every postseason while he was in Utah, but he enjoyed being part of "a really good team led by Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur.
"I thought we left a little bit on the table. I think we could've done a little bit more," Korver said. "We ran into a hot Laker team, a good Laker team, every year it seemed like.
"(But) I thought we played good, fun basketball and it was a healthy life there."
One hundred and 16 families — soon to be 117 — will forever be grateful for how he ramped up his charity work in Utah during a 21/2-season stay many fans thought was all too short.
"He's a pleasant heart. He cares about where he lives. He's a giving person that wants to take care of his community as much as he can and be a part of it," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, an assistant under Jerry Sloan during Korver's Utah playing days. "He's a tremendous teammate. He's easy to work with from a coaching standpoint."
Of course, the Jazz would love it if Korver focused more on his ramp-building efforts rather than reminding them of his 3-point shooting prowess during his brief return visit.
Hawks at Jazz
Tonight, 7 p.m.
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