Sometimes practices are three-hours long. —Joe Ingles
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz’s annual exit interview press conference had all of the things you’d expect: proud reminiscing on a surprisingly successful season, an optimistic outlook on the future, injury inquiries, questions about contract situations and, of course, an entertaining dialogue about the T-shirt Derrick Favors wore in what might be his last official event as a member of the organization.
There were also Joe Ingles jokes, but that’s so common it would only be newsworthy had he not taken a humorous jab at a teammate or reporter.
“Joe,” a reporter said, “this might be a dumb question, but ”
“I’ll let you know,” Ingles retorted, playfully interrupting him.
(For the record, Ingles told the reporter his question about how Donovan Mitchell can improve after one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history was not a dumb question.)
• Ingles did question another media member’s line of questioning, though.
When a TV reporter asked how the 21-year-old Mitchell had managed to earn the respect of NBA veterans, Ingles jokingly scoffed.
“He hasn’t,” Ingles quipped. “I don’t know who told you that.”
(For the record, Mitchell certainly has earned the respect and Ingles went on to laud him for being humble.)
Ingles also took a humorous shot at former Jazz teammate Trey Lyles, who ripped on Utah after being traded to Denver and complained about the occasionally long practices Quin Snyder put his team through.
“It’s a part of the culture here,” Ingles said in response to a question about the staff’s ability to develop players. “It’s what we do. Sometimes practices are three-hours long. ”
Ingles paused and lightly chuckled after saying that part about three-hour practices, which has become a running joke that even Snyder has made.
The funniest line Ingles had was about him trying to convince Favors to re-sign with Utah. Last year, the Aussie was among the Jazz contingent that traveled to San Diego in hopes of persuading Gordon Hayward to pick Utah over Boston and Miami.
“Fav did tell me I didn’t need to fly on a private jet to go and see him,” Ingles said. “He said, ‘Don’t waste your time. Just Facetime.’”
• Speaking of Favors, his shirt was a fun conversation starter. It featured a picture of a young Rudy Gobert, sporting poofy hair and glasses and that read “Rudy’s kids,” which is the name of The Stifle Tower’s charity. Favors laughed and said a friend got it for him.
“Just supporting his cause. I like the picture. I think it’s a great picture,” Favors said, laughing. “I support his foundation, so I just thought I’d wear it.”
Gobert took it in stride.
“It’s a good-looking kid on the front,” he said, smiling.
• Forward Georges Niang, a two-way player who split time between the Jazz and the SLC Stars, loved the experience of having his G-League and NBA teams in the same city. When he was in Indiana’s organization, he had to travel two hours each way between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.
The scenery in Utah’s capital ain’t bad, either.
“I think it’s even better that as a G-League player you get to be in such a cool city like Salt Lake City,” Niang said. “I remember when I first got here I was driving my truck and I was nearly crashing on the highway because I’m staring up at the mountain.”
Niang said he’s a safer driver now.
“Yeah,” he said. “The mountains are old to me now.”
• David Stockton grew up in Salt Lake City, so playing for his dad’s old team at the end of the season was a dream come true for him.
“It was really cool. People stayed at the end of games to see if I was going to get in. The crowd was as loud as ever during those times,” he said. “It was really exciting for me and I’m sure it was for the rest of my family.”
That includes his oft-stoic dad, Hall of Famer John Stockton, who made multiple appearances in Utah to support his son and his former team.
“I think it really made him excited about the NBA and being around the playoffs,” the younger Stockton said.
• Guard Alec Burks, a man of few words in media interviews, seemed eager to begin (or end) his interview obligation. While Ricky Rubio spoke, including a touching moment in which he said he “went through hell” missing the second-round series against Houston, Burks stood in the doorway trying to get his Spanish teammate to hurry up.
• Last but not least, Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey thought it was neat how a group of devoted fans greeted the team at the airport in the wee hours of Wednesday morning after arriving back from Houston.
“This team in a unique way captured the imagination of our fans,” Lindsey said. “There were a couple hundred fans at the airport last night. It was quite touching, so we want to give a shout-out to all the fans that were at the charter last night.”