NEW YORK — Just 2 1/2 weeks ago, Jamaal Tinsley took his 9-year-old son to watch a basketball game at Barclays Center. The Brooklyn native and his son, Jamaal Tinsley Jr., sat behind the Miami bench for that Oct. 17 game between the Nets and Heat.
Such as life is in the NBA, Tinsley played in front of the visitors bench Tuesday night. He went from being a spectator to the Utah Jazz's starter against the Nets.
“It is a crazy business,” Tinsley said. “You can’t take nothing for granted. I appreciate every opportunity that comes my way.”
The Jazz needed point guard help after starter Trey Burke, the team’s coveted rookie acquisition this offseason, broke the index finger on his shooting hand in his third preseason game.
Veteran John Lucas III overtook the starting role, and Tinsley, who still lives part-time in New York, was signed to the organization he’d spent the previous two seasons with five days before the season opener.
The only negative was that Tinsley couldn’t take his son to school on Friday of the week he returned to Utah. Yes, that was a good negative. Junior even told Senior, "Dad, don’t worry about it. You’ve got a job now."
It didn’t take long for the Tinsleys to get a chance to see each other again thanks to the Jazz’s schedule, which included an early New York trip.
The 35-year-old Tinsley, of course, was excited to get another chance to play in his hometown in front of family and friends.
The Nets’ spiffy arena on Atlantic Avenue is not far from where "Mel Mel" lived as a kid and played street ball. He later became known as "Mel Mel The Abuser" when he tore up the blacktop in Harlem.
“Five minutes where I grew up from,” he said, describing his old neighborhood's distance from Barclays Center. “I could walk to my neighborhood from here.”
Last year, the Jazz were grateful for Tinsley’s knowledge of Brooklyn. A bus driver got lost and took the team on a wild tour of the New York borough until Tinsley went to the front of the bus and gave directions to the hotel.
The Jazz bus arrived to Tuesday’s shootaround a bit late, but that was because of traffic and not because of a lost driver.
Tinsley smiled about that.
“He could’ve taken another way.”
Tinsley took a friend to dinner in Brooklyn on Monday night.
Mostly, he’s just excited to be back with the Jazz, hoping to contribute.
“Whatever I can do to help the team, I’m all for,” Tinsley said. “Whether it’s me on the court starting, whether it’s me sitting on the bench, whether it’s me backing up, just being a team player and I think just helping the young guys get better as a person and as a basketball player.”
THOUGHTS ON WILLIAMS: About two weeks after taking over for Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin had to bid farewell to his best player when the Jazz traded away Williams to the Nets. Corbin laughed when jokingly asked what it was like to coach D-Will for that short stint.
“I loved it for 10 days,” he quipped.
Corbin got to know Williams well as Sloan’s assistant before being promoted in the wake of the February 2011 resignation. Williams was with the Jazz for 5-1/2 seasons before the trade.
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