Utah Jazz: Jazz forward Richard Jefferson defends coach Tyrone Corbin, blasts critics
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Outside of the Utah Jazz locker room, there has been a lot of grumbling about the coaching job done by Tyrone Corbin.
Do a search on Twitter for the #firety hashtag for a quick taste of the negativity toward the Jazz’s bench boss of the past three years.
On the inside of the Jazz locker room, however, players continue to credit Corbin for helping them prepare and learn even during difficult times in this weird season in which Utah has started with a 4-19 record.
Veteran Richard Jefferson, who's played for legendary coaches such as Lute Olsen at Arizona and the Spurs' Gregg Popovich, ardently defended Corbin when asked about the pressure and negativity put on the Jazz coach from some outsiders hoping for a change.
When asked about criticism toward Corbin, Jefferson went on for a while about his strong feelings about this particular topic before Tuesday’s practice.
“I think that’s stupid, just flat-out dumb,” he said. “By no means am I disrespecting our fans. Everybody’s entitled to an opinion. When you pay your money, whether you’re a fan of our team or the other team, you’re spending your hard-earned dollar to support the NBA and I respect that.”
Jefferson, who's started for Utah since being traded from Golden State this offseason, simply disagrees with the critics.
“Now as far as lashing out and putting pressure on a coach, that’s unfair. Everybody’s an armchair quarterback,” Jefferson said. “Everybody has their own fantasy football team. Everybody has their own idea of what should go down.
“But,” he added, “I can tell you from being in this league and having multiple Hall of Fame coaches that Ty is doing a very good job. He’s in a very difficult situation with a lot of young guys and a lot of injuries, and he’s doing a very, very good job, and I say that with the utmost confidence.”
Jazz shooting guard Alec Burks also backed Corbin’s decision to play Jefferson at the end of Monday’s 105-94 loss to Portland despite the fact that Burks scored a team-high 20 points.
“I trust in Coach Ty,” Burks said, “and everybody else does.”
NOT PLAYING: Shooting guard Brandon Rush didn’t play for the second game in a row Monday and has only played 56 minutes all season since returning from his knee surgery.
“The way the games have been going of late, I didn’t feel good about putting him in with how the games are going,” Corbin said. “He’s ready to go. I just have to find time to put him on the floor.”
Same goes for rookie Rudy Gobert, who received his seventh DNP-CD in Monday’s loss. Big man Andris Biedrins has been getting the nod more often than the French center lately.
“The matchups weren’t in his favor. It’s a long season. He’ll get a chance to play. It’s just where we are right now,” Corbin said. “I felt better with Andris in there because of rebounding and knowing more about the flow of the game. We had a rhythm going and I kind of wanted to keep that going.”
Corbin said there are certain aspects to the NBA game that are “not instinctive just yet” for Gobert, but he’s working hard to improve.
“We just want to make sure to put him in a position where he can be successful,” Corbin said, “and he doesn’t hurt the flow of the team on both ends of the floor.”
ABOUT TIME: Corbin is excited that his predecessor, Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan, is finally going to be honored by the Jazz organization. That banner-raising ceremony will take place at EnergySolutions Arena when Utah hosts Golden State in an ESPN-televised game on Jan. 31.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s very well-deserved. I’m extremely excited that he decided to do it,” Corbin said.
Corbin took over for Sloan on Feb. 10, 2011, when the longtime Jazz coach shockingly resigned midseason. Sloan didn’t come around the team much until the end of the next year, but he’s been a fixture ever since, even rejoining the organization as a senior basketball adviser.
“I know it’s not one of the things that he looks forward to doing. I’m excited,” Corbin added. “The organization has been trying to get it done. I’m glad he accepted the recognition.”
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