Utah Jazz: NBA taking notice of Jazz rookie Trey Burke
Burke didn’t lose his mind or cool Monday, but he didn’t play composed. Corbin noted that the point guard held the ball too long, waiting for something to happen. Unfortunately, the thing that often happened was the Heat’s attacking defense created havoc and the Jazz's offense sputtered.
“I think he got caught up in the Miami thing (Monday) night,” Corbin said. “We’ll just rack it up as that and move on.”
It’s easy to understand how nerves could've gotten the best of Burke on this night. That can happen when you're playing against one of the guys you looked up to growing up.
As a kid in Columbus, Ohio, Burke had an unforgettable chance to watch James and his St. Vincent-St. Mary High School squad take on Brookhaven High School in his hometown.
“It was something I’ll always remember,” he said. “It was my first time actually seeing him play in person. He was phenomenal. I could tell he was going to be a great player.”
Burke then attended James’ elite basketball camp before his sophomore season in high school.
During Michigan’s March Madness run last spring, Burke and James exchanged texts.
Burke admitted he’d pretend he was Chris Paul or another point guard while playing pick-up ball, but good luck finding an Ohio basketball player who didn’t idolize LeBron growing up.
“Obviously,” Burke said, “I watched him a lot.”
Burke called it "unfortunate" that he played the way he did against James, an off-night that contributed to the Jazz's loss.
"I’m just going to continue to try to work," he said.
James has kept tabs on the Jazz point guard over the years as he worked his way into becoming a legitimate NBA playmaker.
“I’ve been watching him since he was a seventh-grader. I’ve seen his growth over the years,” James said. “I was happy with the success he had in high school. I was happy for him with his success he had in college — even though he went to the M-school. ... I’m happy for him so far (in the NBA). He had the little injury to start the season, but he’s back now and he’s playing some good ball.”
James' support has meant the world to Burke.
"It’s very nice when you have a guy as great as LeBron james (saying that). It’s definitely great," Burke said. "It gives you confidence going out there, especially when he’s from your home state."
With that James encounter behind him, Burke is looking forward to Wednesday night's matchup with the Orlando Magic, a team that considered drafting him No. 2 overall but ended up selecting Indiana shooting guard Victor Oladipo.
“It should be fun going up against another rookie, a guy that is projected to be one of the Rookie of the Year candidates,” Burke said. “I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be exciting.”
Burke admitted he has a bit of extra motivation to play well against Oladipo, whom he became friends with during their Big Ten battles the past two college seasons.
The Jazz’s starting playmaker also wouldn’t mind playing well against a team that passed up on him during the 2013 NBA draft. Six months ago, Burke would have believed he’d be in an Orlando uniform instead of playing for Utah Wednesday night at the Amway Center.
Burke is happy with that turn of events, though.
“Once Utah ended up trading for me, it was kind of like ‘Wow!’ I had a meeting with them at the transition program, but I never worked out for them, so it was kind of weird,” Burke said. “But I feel like I’m in the right spot. We’ve got a growing team. We’re really young and I feel like we’re going in the right direction.”
This game is one of those defining moments for a player. It’s one thing to have a poor performance. That happens to everyone in the NBA, even LeBron. But how will Burke respond to one of his roughest outings with the Jazz?
“He didn’t play his best,” Corbin said. “He struggled a little bit.”
Corbin added that it’s just another learning opportunity for Burke, who’s been soaking up as much information and as many lessons as he possibly can so far. At Tuesday’s practice, Burke even talked about how much he’s learning from more experienced Jazz veterans about how to behave off the court, how to eat, how to get enough rest, and how to act to get the best on-the-court performance.
“I look forward to him being really good (Wednesday) night. He’ll respond. He understands,” Corbin said. “We had a little conversation. He didn’t play his best game and he feels bad about it. We’ll get the lesson and move on.”
Burke’s biggest fan in Miami seemed genuinely happy to have watch him move on from being a middle school player with promise to becoming one of the top players of his draft class.
“To see (Burke) be here now in this league where he’s always had a passion, always had a dream about being here,” James said, “I think it’s unbelievable.”
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