Memo to Utah Jazz: Mehmet Okur hopes to help Enes Kanter

Published: Sunday, Feb. 2 2014 7:20 p.m. MST

“The first time I got here I was out of shape. I thought I was in shape, but I wasn’t,” said Okur, who signed with Utah from Detroit in 2004. “He (Sloan) was just giving me a hard time and a hard time every day until I get in shape. Finally, I realized it’s going to be a long seven years, so I’d better come in every year in good shape.”

There are other aspects of the game and pointers Okur wants to share and help the other Big Turk refine, so he looks forward to returning to his second home soon to do that. It means a lot to Kanter, who's averaging career highs in points (12.0), rebounds (6.2) and minutes (25.4) but has had defensive lapses and stretches of offensive ineffectiveness.

"He’s a really nice guy," the young Jazz center said.

It wasn’t at all surprising that Okur came back to celebrate Sloan’s career with Karl Malone, John Stockton, Howard Eisley, Bryon Russell, Mark Eaton, John Crotty, Thurl Bailey, Matt Harpring and Co. Two-plus years removed from his Utah playing days, Memo wouldn’t have missed a chance to be there for the man he calls “the best coach ever” on Jerry Sloan Day.

“I really can’t thank him enough for what he (has) done for my career,” Okur said. “As a player, as a person, he was just there every time I needed him.”

Paying it forward to Kanter might be the greatest tribute Okur could give to the man he came to honor last Friday night when that “1223” banner was lifted to the rafters.

EMAIL: jody@desnews.com


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