The newest member of Team Brainiac, aka the Utah Jazz, was all he was supposed to be Thursday at his introductory press conference: smart, astute, sincere, introspective, wise and engaging.
Brevin Knight made a strong first impression. Stanford people usually do. He could have been a CEO, judge or doctor if he'd wanted the pay cut. As it turned out, he was quick and athletic, too, so he joined the NBA. Which eventually led to the Jazz raising their composite IQ again. That gives them two former Stanford players and one each from Rice and Duke.
Any smarter and they'd have to start holding Mensa meetings after practice.
"They say Coach Sloan likes hanging around with intellectual guys," laughed Knight. "It helps keep the team IQ up."
Combined with Jarron Collins whom Knight helped recruit to Stanford Carlos Boozer (Duke) and Morris Almond (Rice), the Jazz now have enough brainpower to settle the cold fusion debate.
But what they really need is an answer on how to get an NBA championship.
"That," said Knight, "would be a dream come true."
Knight's first day as a Jazz player, then, was a success. He was as unruffled as a line judge. The media asked about his reaction to being traded to Utah, and he said he was thrilled. They inquired about the possibility of his being the No. 3 point guard, and he acknowledged "this is definitely Deron Williams' team" but added he wasn't planning on sitting on the bench, either.
Someone brought up learning Sloan's offense, and Knight said he already knew it from years of defending it.
When a TV reporter noted this is Knight's ninth NBA team, he reminded that four were in the same year. Asked about being the team's oldest player at 32 he said, "That's OK. If not the quickest, I can be one of the quickest guys out there."
He certainly was with his comebacks.
So he aced his first test in Utah.
You kept wondering if he would ask the assembled media, "So is that all ya got? No further questions?"
Nothing that doesn't involve Kepler's Conjecture or the Drake Equation.
The addition of Knight brings the total number of former Stanford players who have played for the Jazz to five the most by any school. North Carolina State, Minnesota, BYU, Kansas, UNLV and Utah have each placed four players on the Jazz, though some weren't in Utah long enough to adjust to the weather.
Stanford, on the other hand, has had a good long run with the Jazz. The first such player was Rich Kelley, who played for the Jazz in 1975-79 and 1983-85. That was followed by Adam Keefe (1994-2000), Curtis Borchardt (2002-05) and Collins (2001-present).
Smart guys, one and all.
The feeling with all of them was that basketball wasn't the only thing they could do.
That's not to say the Jazz have always insisted on smart guys. They've had their share of screwballs, knuckleheads and dumbbells, too. Some just made bad decisions, like Creighton center Chad Gallagher, who went looking for an apartment, rather than showing up for an optional practice while on a 10-day contract. Luther Wright tried to smuggle a puppy onto a commercial jet.
On the other hand, there was Walter Palmer, a Dartmouth graduate, and John Amaechi, who was a first team academic All-American from Vanderbilt and Penn State.
Whether there is a concerted effort on the Jazz's part to hire Stanford guys is doubtful, but it doesn't hurt. General manager Kevin O'Connor said he thinks "the level of guys who go to Stanford and the discipline they establish with the school helps."
Yet O'Connor made it clear he didn't trade Jason Hart for Knight just to get a bright guy, or even a locker room leader.
"If you don't compete on the court," noted O'Connor, "it's very difficult to help in the locker room."
Competing in a road trip crossword contest?
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