SALT LAKE CITY — It was hard to say how serious Ekpe Udoh was when he proclaimed himself “one of the best defensive players in the world” after Friday’s shootaround.
“I’m still one of the best defenders in the world, hands down,” the first-year Jazz forward said.
Later in the interview he repeated himself, saying, “Like I said, I’m one of the best defenders in the world — I’ve really developed over the past two years overseas and I really look forward to that challenge over here.” Then he laughed.
When pressed further about being one of the world’s best basketball defenders, Udoh said, “I really believe I am one of them and I just have fun with it.”
Then as he was walking away from the interview, he said, “Quote me.”
When coach Quin Snyder was informed of Udoh’s comments, he didn't flinch.
“The fact that he takes so much pride in his defense is a great thing,” he said. “He’s always been a good defender with his length. He’s a good defender."
Then Snyder smiled and said, "He and Rudy (Gobert) should sort that one out."
NO OPINION: On Thursday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said there was “nothing magical” about the league staying with an 82-game schedule.
Snyder preferred not to give an opinion on the length of the NBA season, saying, “When I have more years in the league, I’ll have more opinions about things.”
Then Snyder added, “I think whatever is best for the game. You’re balancing a lot of things whether it be revenue or players’ health or rest or all those things. I don’t know all the answers. There’s a lot of people that know more than I do that can figure it out.”
WATSON SALUTES WORKERS: When asked which players and front-office people he likes to see when he returns to Utah, Phoenix coach Earl Watson, a former Jazzman, went a different direction.
“All these workers ... the ushers and security and everyone here,” he said. “The people who, as players and coaches you think matter most, they’re the ones you greet every day. They’re the initial introduction. When you come to a game, it’s not the players, it’s not the coaches, not any of them. It’s these men and women who bust their butts to make sure it’s a great experience for the fans and the players and their families, I just can’t say it enough. You value the people who matter the most, the people who don’t wear jerseys.”
JAZZ NOTES: The Jazz play the Suns again Monday night in Phoenix before going to Los Angeles for a game Tuesday night against the Clippers . . . The Jazz will play Phoenix three times within an 18-day period with a regular-season game scheduled for Oct. 25 in Phoenix . . . Former Jazzman Elijah Millsap plays for Phoenix and scored two points in three minutes . . . Last year, the Jazz blew a 30-point first-half lead against the Suns and lost 111-110 in a preseason home game . . . Friday’s game wasn’t televised, nor will the two road games next week. However, all 82 regular-season games will be televised . . . The regular season begins on Oct. 18 against Denver.