CLEVELAND — Shortly after entering the game for Joe Ingles at 7:03 in the opening quarter, Utah Jazz sharpshooter Kyle Korver found his way to the free throw line, where he received a loud ovation from the crowd.
Then, after a timeout, his former Cleveland Cavaliers team posted a celebratory graphic on the jumbotron that read: “Welcome Back & Thank You! Kyle Korver” at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night.
After spending part of three seasons in a Wine & Gold uniform, the 16-year veteran was surprised by the fanfare in his return. He ended with 10 points as one of eight Jazz scorers in double digits during Utah’s 117-91 victory.
“I didn’t expect anything,” Korver said. “I feel like I wasn’t here that long, but I felt like I had a good relationship with the people here and the fans so it’s always special to come back the first time you come back and see familiar faces.
“When you’re on these teams, you’re with them so much every day and you’re with each other more than your family and so you get to come back and talk to some of those guys again and the coaching staff and stuff.”
On Nov. 29, Korver was traded to Utah for Alec Burks and two future second-round draft picks. The former NBA All-Star made two trips to the NBA Finals, alongside LeBron James, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors but admitted to experiencing more good than bad in Cleveland.
In Utah, he’s in a different situation, where he’s still searching to find his role in the offense but is keeping a professional attitude in the process.
“I’m still new to this team and trying to find and earn some respect before I try to talk too much to people,” Korver said. “But I shoot with Royce (O’Neale) every day and shoot with Donovan (Mitchell) some and different guys and hopefully that relationship will keep on building, the trust will keep on building and we can keep on working.”
Kover is averaging 8.9 points and 1.6 rebounds while shooting 39.8 percent from 3 since being acquired by Utah from Cleveland a little over a month ago. It’s unclear of how long the 37-year-old will continue to play after this year, but for now he’s enjoying every moment — including the Cleveland tribute.
“I wouldn’t imagine much of this career back in 2003,” said Korver, who was taken 51st overall in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft. “It’s been an incredible gift.
“You try not to spend too much time reflecting because you want to keep your edge and keep on pushing but, man, God has been very kind and I just try to keep working hard.”