SALT LAKE CITY — Though he wasn’t a spokesman for Dos Equis, Boris Diaw was occasionally called “The Most Interesting Man in the World” during his NBA career.
Diaw was, after all, a guy who took a cross-country joyride and visited multiple national parks in Utah after being traded to the Jazz from the San Antonio Spurs a few years ago. He was famous for loving his particular type of coffee so much that he bought the team cappuccino machines for locker rooms at home and on the road. A Grantland story detailed how he cleared the rack on the vertical leap machine at practice while wearing flip-flops.
The big Frenchman was cultured, amicable and humorous; shared insightful opinions on a variety of topics; acquired a love for sailing and wildlife photography; and displayed a joie de vivre befitting the fun nickname. Bill Walton reportedly once said of the former Jazz power forward, “When I look at Boris Diaw, I think about Beethoven in the age of the romantics.”
Diaw is doing nothing to diminish that reputation in his retirement.
The 36-year-old returned to Utah on Saturday to take in the Utah-OKC game — a heartbreaking 107-106 loss for his former team — but it took him nearly a month to make it to the Beehive State from Europe.
Why so long?
Diaw sailed from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean, enjoying what the sea south of his French home and Atlantic Ocean had to offer for three weeks en route to this side of the world.
“It’s been fun,” Diaw said.
Diaw has literally sailed off into the sunset in his retirement and plans on continuing splitting his time between the water and the land. He spent six months on his boat since his playing days ended with the French team Levallois Metropolitans earlier this year after his 2016-17 stint with the Jazz.
"I'm going and seeing other places and just loving it," he said.
Diaw will spend the next month in Utah where he still has a home.
"It's good," he said of returning to one of his former NBA cities. "I like to be back."
Diaw is in the States on assignment. He works for the French basketball federation to observe and help Les Bleus players in the NBA, including his Jazz buddy Rudy Gobert, OKC's Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, Charlotte's Nicolas Batum and Orlando's Evan Fournier.
This part-time gig works perfectly with his non-basketball globetrotting adventures. He sets his own schedule, helps his country and countrymates and gets to visit his old stomping grounds while staying near the game that he played professionally for a decade and a half and in the NBA from 2003 through 2017 with Atlanta, Phoenix, Charlotte, San Antonio and Utah.
"It’s fun. That keeps me in basketball. That was one way for me," Diaw said. "I didn't want a full-time job where I’ve got to be in all day every day and in a coaching office or something like that, but I wanted something."
When he gets his sea legs back in Utah, Diaw looks forward to hitting the slopes for the first time since he was a teenager.
"I didn’t ski during my whole career," he said, "so I had to stop for like 17 years. I'm starting again now."
Fellow skiers might consider giving the 6-foot-8, 250-pound man plenty of space while he gets reacquainted with sliding and shredding in the greatest snow on earth.
On the Jazz front, Diaw likes the improvements he's seen from The Stifle Tower.
"I think that he’s been doing great. He's more and more consistent. It's one big part of it from him," Diaw said of Gobert. "There is a couple of areas that he can improve on as far as post-ups and stuff like that. We use him really great in pick-and-rolls, but he definitely can be more of a threat if he can add a couple more post moves."
As for the Jazz, Diaw has been impressed with what he's seen. He watches TV and NBA games on his sailboat via satellite and the Internet, by the way.1 comment on this story
"I think they're good," he said, noting that he likes how they can make explosive runs when they need to. "Like last year, they have a strong group that played good basketball together. That's what we see tonight. … Consistency is a key in the league."
Diaw did laugh about the sudden scoring increase around the NBA.
"Where did the defense go?" he asked, jokingly. "Did they change the rules? The referering?"
The Most Interesting Man in the World smiled when it was suggested that he might average 25 points in today's league after averaging 8.6 points over his 16-year NBA career.
"Yeah, c'mon, man! I’d make a better living," Diaw said, laughing. "I'm kidding. I'm not complaining at all."