Utah Jazz players and families have harrowing hurricane experiences

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1 2012 8:46 p.m. MDT

NEW ORLEANS — While Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast, Jamaal Tinsley didn't know what had happened to his 8-year-old son.

Tinsley was 2,200 miles away, safe and sound in Utah, but he anxiously wondered about the safety of Jamaal Jr. and his mom. Their New Jersey shore town of Edgewater was in the path of the mega-storm.

Power was knocked out for millions in the New York area, but Tinsley also remained in the dark.

"I couldn't speak to them for a whole day, so I didn't know what was going on (Monday)," the Brooklyn-born Tinsley said, citing widespread cellphone problems. "I finally got in touch with them. … It was just good to hear his voice."

Tinsley's son and his child's mom evacuated their condo and took refuge in a hotel. Because of extensive damage to the area and accompanying electricity and water outages, they can't return home for another 7-10 days.

"It's tough, you know, but the best thing is everybody's safe," Tinsley said. "There ain't too much I could do if I was there anyway. I tried to get them to come out here but they said they good."

Now, at least.

Understandably, the storm was as horrifying as it was devastating.

Before they lost contact, Tinsley talked to his son when the hurricane was beginning to approach their home near the Hudson River.

"He was scared when it first happened, not knowing what was going on," Tinsley said. "(He was) just saying, 'Daddy, there's a lot of wind, a lot of rain. What's going on?’ ”

Jazz guard Randy Foye, a New Jersey native, shook his head while speaking of the havoc wreaked on his home city of Newark. Three deaths, trees down, flooded structures.

Fortunately, Foye said his family is "pretty good," but his grandmother's power went out so she had to seek shelter with his aunt.

"I talked to her, but it's just tough. … It's been tough for everybody back there because they're not used to going through things like that," Foye said. "If something like that happened in the South, Florida or somewhere along the Gulf Coast, they would be able to adapt to it quicker and respond a little better.

"But we're not used to things like that, so it's kind of hitting everyone pretty hard."

The NBA postponed the Brooklyn Nets' inaugural game in their new home, the Barclays Center, against the New York Knicks due to the hurricane. The Nets' practice facility in New Jersey also incurred damage.

Experiencing the disaster from afar gave Tinsley a renewed sense of appreciation.

"It's bad. There's a lot of people who lost their lives, a lot of damage, a lot of stuff that we can't control. We take (things) for granted sometimes," he said. "As athletes, we don't know how blessed we are. My condolences go out to all the families that are struggling that don't have no way out. It's just tough."

THIS AND THAT: With a deep and big team, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin wants to force opponents' hands with match-ups: "When they go small, we want to try and force our will on them and we try to make them match up to our big guys." He thought that happened in Utah's 113-94 win over Dallas in Wednesday's season-opener. … Corbin on second-year guard Alec Burks only getting two minutes: "It's just one game. We'll see where it goes. Alec has worked his butt off to deserve minutes on the floor. All the guys are in a bind for minutes. It's going to be a tough time to get guys quality minutes, night in and night out. It's a long season." … Shooting guard Gordon Hayward on playing in New Orleans tonight, "We went in there last year and kind of took them lightly and they stomped on us. It'll be a good game for us." … Mo Williams on getting a technical four minutes and 10 seconds into the new season: "I think I was just sending a message to (the ref), I want to play. That's what I told him, 'I don't want to sit and watch the whole game.' He thought I said a little bit too much, but it was cool. I deserved it."

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