SALT LAKE CITY — Entering Zions Bank Basketball Campus for practice was tough for Joe Ingles on some days.
Even strolling into Vivint Arena for Utah Jazz home games on certain days was a drag for the Australian 3-point marksman.
That was because Ingles and his wife, Renae, learned that their 2-and-a-half-year-old son Jacob was diagnosed with autism on Jan. 8.
So, even deeper than playing through his ugly middle finger sprain, left ankle sprain and the legendary performance in Memphis on Nov. 12 where he used a makeshift headband to cover a split above his left eye, Ingles became the NBA’s iron man while pushing through some serious family issues.
“There was a lot of days that I didn’t really want to be here, but having these guys, having Coach and the guys and, obviously, my family made it a lot easier to come in here and then go home to them when I need to,” Ingles said.
On Saturday, Ingles played in his 281st consecutive NBA game — posting 18 points, six assists and five rebounds to help the Jazz defeat the Dallas Mavericks. In the process, he became the league leader in consecutive games with the longest active streak.
Less than 24 hours after beating Dallas, Ingles hit the hardwood again the next day.
This time it was at Rowland Hall Middle School against a group from the Special Olympics Utah program, while also assisting with other drills for campers as a special guest at the Ricky Rubio Academy on Sunday.
Afterward, Ingles and Rubio were hit with a bunch of questions, with one on durability.
“How do you guys stay healthy for the games with the Jazz?” one camper asked.
“He can talk because he hasn’t missed a game in the last three years,” Rubio deferred to Ingles.
It was there that Ingles revealed his detailed process for staying healthy.
“We do a lot so we spend probably like an hour before every practice and game on the table getting treatment,” Ingles described. “We spend probably about the same, 30 minutes to an hour after the game, to be reasonably healthy when we can. But yeah, especially for me, doing the treatment before and after the game is why I’m able to be out there every night.”
Although Ingles has already stated that he doesn’t care about keeping the streak alive and claims it’s never been on his radar, he does take pride in his process of staying available through his everyday habits.
“That’s hot tub, cold tub, weird machines that we use and even to a certain extent like lifting weights, we do stuff before in the warmup to get ready so all of that helps,” Ingles said.
Ingles has not missed a game since Dec. 16, 2015 against the New Orleans Pelicans and his teammates have certainly noticed his dedication to maintaining his body. Especially Jazz guard Raul Neto, who has been sidelined for 29 games this season with right hamstring, right thigh soreness and left groin strain injuries throughout the year.
“Every time I see somebody that plays that many minutes and never gets hurt, that’s impressive for me,” Neto said. “That’s where I want to be but I think it’s easier when you know the minutes you’re going to play, you know your routine.
“I think some of mine were just, I don’t even like talking about it, but it was just not knowing if you’re going to play or you don’t have as much work as you’re supposed to have,” he continued. “You think your body’s good but then when you’ve got to be out there and competing, that’s when your body feels good so it’s really impressive, but I think it helps when you know how many minutes you’re playing, the routine … that really helps.”
Derrick Favors has played in all but one game for the Jazz this season, but has dealt with knee injuries in the past so he respects Ingles’ ability to stay so durable while playing the third-most minutes on the team (31.4) behind Donovan Mitchell (33.5) and Rudy Gobert (31.8).1 comment on this story
Also, considering the fact that Ingles and his family were trying to make sure Jacob was getting proper care while not letting it affect his pre- and post-game habits just proves to Favors that “he’s professional in every way.”
“With Joe, he’s been around a long time,” Favors said. “He’s been playing professional basketball I think for maybe 12, 13 years or whatever so he learned all the secrets. He learned all the different ways to take care of your body. Ice, stretch, weights, getting proper rest, so you’ve just got to give the credit to him because he does a great job.”