MEMPHIS — With 3:55 left in regulation, a driving MarShon Brooks charged toward the rim before spotting an open Marc Gasol at the top of the key.
On the way down from the jumping pass, the follow-through from Brooks’ hand delivered a split above the left eye of Utah Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles in Memphis on Monday, Nov. 12, which caused blood to rain down his face.
“I didn’t realize it,” Ingles recalled. “I just felt like a hand in the face kind of thing, then he was yelling at the referee saying I was bleeding.”
Fortunately, the Jazz had a full timeout to burn, where athletic trainer Eric Waters worked his magic. In a split second, Waters crafted a makeshift headband for Ingles with bandaged wrap and tape, and the legend of “Headband Joe” Ingles was born in that moment.
Ingles would return to lead the Jazz past the Memphis Grizzlies 96-88 with the new creation.
Not only did he keep playing, Ingles drained a late triple with 45.4 seconds remaining to silence the crowd at FedExForum and push the Jazz up 10. Afterward he shaded his hands around the head wrap and the rest is history as the act went viral throughout Jazz Nation on social media.
“I just wanted to win the game,” Ingles said. “We were playing well and I just wanted to go back in. I told Eric to wrap it up as quickly as possible and was able to get back out there.”
Ingles ended the night in Memphis with a team-high 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, while going 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. The instant classic moment has already become listed among the notable moments in franchise history as “Headband Joe” T-shirts have been produced, with a laundry list of other classic memes and captions across the internet.
“The twins are going to want headbands tomorrow!” his wife, Renae, shared via Twitterwith crying face emojis.
But what most didn’t realize is that his teammates could hardly keep a straight face when he stepped out of the huddle with the new accessory.
“I was trying to stay focused,” said Jazz center Rudy Gobert. “It was hard. I was just looking down.”
The Australian’s courage and grit was certainly on display in that moment as he immediately received at least four stitches in the visitors locker room after the game. Ingles had already been pushing through pain as he separated his right middle finger against Toronto less than a week earlier. Up until that point, he never received stitches in his life.4 comments on this story
“Headband Joe. He’s a trooper, he’s going through a lot of stuff, but he’s a fighter, that’s why I respect him,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “He doesn’t miss a game literally, so it’s very impressive, and he’s just a dog and he willed us to that victory, too.”
While the gutsy act drew national praise, Jazz coach Quin Snyder kept the moment in perspective. Ingles didn’t return with the headband for the next game in Dallas, but Jazz fans will surely remember the night “Headband Joe” came alive on Beale Street.
“To be honest with you, I’m happy he did it, but that’s our expectation,” Snyder said. “That’s his expectation, and we’ve got to be a tough team. That’s the norm. I’m proud of him and happy for him, happy for us.”