DALLAS — The Utah Jazz took a detour away from basketball to go on a field trip into the middle of American history after arriving in Texas on Thursday.
Utah’s road game against the Dallas Mavericks happened to take place on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, so team officials decided to spend time together learning about that devastating event during a tour to the Sixth Floor Museum.
That memorial is in the Texas School Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald was when he allegedly shot and killed Kennedy, who was seated next to his wife during a presidential caravan through downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
“I thought it was a great educational experience, a great chance for the guys to experience some history in our country, a sad part of history losing a president like we did,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “It’s a good thing to build these guys together.”
Players thoroughly appreciated the visit, including the opportunity to debate about the different versions of what actually happened that fateful day a half-century ago.
Gordon Hayward tweeted: "Pretty cool that we were able to visit the #SixthFloorMuseum on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination #chills."
Mike Harris said the players also soaked in different details of the assassination, from hearing the tour guide’s tidbits and opinion about the grassy knoll to watching a short video clip on the team bus. Harris admitted his opinion was swayed after watching the video assistant coach Sidney Lowe showed players on his phone.
Players walked away with more questions than they had going in, Harris said.
“It made a good, interesting argument and voice of opinions for everyone once we got on the bus,” he added. “Everyone was kind of going back and forth and (having) mini-debates on what they thought happened. It was pretty interesting. It made people want to research it afterwards.”
The Jazz have previously made similar field trips to historical sites such as the Oklahoma City Memorial and the Memphis-based National Civil Rights Museum.
“I think it was good, especially in our situation that we’re in right now,” Harris said, referring to Utah’s rough start. “Sometimes in situations like these when you’re losing a lot of games early in the season, teams can start to fragment and start to separate a little bit. I think the fact that everybody wanted to go see that when we came down there is one step going in a positive direction.”
MASKED MAN: Forward Marvin Williams rejoined the team Friday afternoon and played against the Mavericks just a day after undergoing surgery to reset his broken nose.
Williams was fitted for a protective face mask in Utah while the began this three-game road trip in New Orleans. Before Friday’s game, Williams said he was feeling “a little bit of pain” but wanted to play.
“He’s been that kind of a professional for us,” Corbin said.
The Jazz coach believes Williams is setting a good example for the younger guys, both by the way he’s gutted through his broken nose, playing that night and in the two ensuing games, and by how he’s battled back from his Achilles surgery.
“It’s good for the young guys to see,” Corbin said. “In this league, in order to be successful, you’ve got to play with pain when you’re not feeling 100 percent. I just have nothing but a great deal of respect for the guy.”
FAITHFUL FAN: Rookie Trey Burke noticed something of interest on his way back to the Jazz locker room after warming up before Friday’s game. His former team was on a TV in the American Airlines Center.
Burke remained fixated on the game for about five minutes and was rewarded with a 82-80 Michigan win over Florida State in overtime. The busy NBA schedule hasn't allowed him to see much Wolverine action yet. The 2013 NCAA player of the year, who led Michigan to the championship game, said that's the most he's been able to watch so far.
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