Whatever I can do to help the team, I’m all for. 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... —Jamaal Tinsley
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.
“The fortunate thing is we had an opportunity as assistant coaches to have a relationship with him for a number of years before he left,” Corbin said. “He was a good player. He’s a good guy to be around. We really enjoyed what he did for this organization while he was here.”
NO UNLIMITED BREADSTICKS: When Hayward was a rookie, much was made about how he and rookie teammate Jeremy Evans at an Italian restaurant chain in New York City, one of the world's culinary hotspots.
Hayward, jokingly called "OG-Time" after his dining choice as a young NBA player, smiled when asked about the Olive Garden. And, no, he didn't end up at the home of unlimited breadsticks, salad and the Tour of Italy on this trip to the Big Apple.
"We kind of just did our own thing yesterday," he said. "We always went to Olive Garden when we stayed at the hotel that’s close to Times Square."
This time, the Jazz stayed at a posh hotel with a view of the Statue of Liberty.
PLAYING HARDBALL: Remember that infamous fastball Williams threw at Hayward after the then-rookie ran the wrong play three seasons ago?
Hayward wonders why everybody makes a big deal out of it.
“I didn’t think it was too big of a deal. He was frustrated at me and it’s not like he threw it out of bounds or threw at my leg,” Hayward said. “I caught and I think we scored on the play. I don’t know why people make that big of a deal with it.”
PLAYING SHORT-HANDED: Relying on just 10 guys, especially some who likely won’t be in the regular rotation as the season progresses, has been tough for the Jazz. Brandon Rush's return, albeit limited, helps a little.
Not having a full bench can really hurt when the team plays back-to-backs a lot, like the four-games-in-five-nights situation the Jazz have this week. It doesn’t get better anytime soon. Utah has 14 more games in November, with five sets of games on consecutive nights.
“It’s just a difficult stretch for us,” Corbin said, “especially being with the short number of bodies in uniform.”