Utah Jazz: Mo Williams, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will be team's three-headed captain
Ben Brewer, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time since Deron Williams was traded to New Jersey 20 months ago, the Utah Jazz have a team captain.
Three of them, in fact.
Mo Williams, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
Coach Tyrone Corbin jokingly said he isn't sure whether a letter "C" will be sewed onto the Jazz jerseys with numbers 5, 24 and 25. Regardless of what the uniform manufacturer does, those veteran players will carry a shared leadership mantle of responsibility during the 2012-13 campaign, which begins Wednesday night at home against Dallas.
Corbin was essentially the head coach and team captain last year and since the post-Jerry Sloan/D-Will portion of the 2010-11 season. Now in his quasi-third season, he's passing along that leadership duty to Williams, Jefferson and Millsap.
The Voice. The Mentor. The Example.
The assigned tri-captainship comes with high expectations from Corbin: "Being leaders, being good teammates, understanding where we are and working together to keep us better."
Even without designated titles, roles have been established in the team's first month.
Williams, entering his 10th season in the NBA, is the most outspoken player and one who dishes out tough love and support alike while directing the team from his floor-general position.
Jefferson, now in his third season in Utah, is the lovable leader who's taken the young bigs under his wing and occasionally dispenses guidance.
Millsap, the longest-tenured Jazzman going into year No. 7, is the classic soft-spoken do-as-I-do type who also picks his moments to speak up now and then.
The three-headed captain combo received an endorsement from one of the team's younger players and potential future leader.
"Mo has really picked it up vocally for us and become a vocal leader. Paul always leads by example really well, and same with Al," Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward said. "This has been good to have those guys here and leading some of us young guys."
The 22-year-old knew (and liked) what Millsap and Big Al had to offer, but he's particularly impressed with the passion, insight and direction Williams brings in his second stint with the Jazz.
"It's been good so far with Mo. Really as a vocal leader, he's done a tremendous job in that regard," Hayward said. "It's something I think we've lacked the last couple of years."
Williams isn't afraid to point out flaws and give constructive criticism. But he also points out things players are doing well and should continue to do. Or, as Hayward added, he gives "little hints" based on what he's seeing from the opposition.
"He's the voice," Jefferson said about his old Mississippi friend, echoing the compliment he gave Jamaal Tinsley last season.
Added Jefferson about Williams: "He's the guy in games when things get kind of tight or at practice when you're coming in feeling sore and you really don't want to get through it, he's the guy that get us through it with his voice."
The 29-year-old Williams, who's a self-proclaimed perfectionist, didn't wait to make an impact. He's been vocalizing his opinions since returning to Utah prior to training camp after being traded here by the Clippers.
"That's just me. I've always been a leader. That's just how I am," Williams said. "If I see somewhere I can help, I always try to lend a hand or lend an ear. I always don't talk. I listen too."
And he observes.
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