SALT LAKE CITY — The day before the Utah Jazz’s 2018-2019 season was set to begin last October, the team announced that it would be adopting a new official hashtag, setting aside the popular #TakeNote in favor of #TeamIsEverything.
For quite a while, the new hashtag received poor feedback from fans who had come to feel that the old one captured well a team that had surprised many by its success over the previous two seasons.
As the season has gone on, however, #TeamIsEverything has become an appropriate slogan for the Jazz as they’ve maintained a high level of connectivity despite experiencing some struggles on the court and real-life challenges off it.
Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers was the latest example of this togetherness. As the organization hosted Autism Awareness Night at Vivint Arena, Joe Ingles, whose son Jacob was diagnosed with autism in January, starred, with his team backing him throughout the night.
Ingles came up one rebound short of a triple-double, finishing with 11 points, a career-high 14 assists and nine rebounds. Having reached 11 assists before the fourth quarter began, he made a 3-pointer with 3:09 remaining to reach the points requirement before checking out 42 seconds later with Utah up by 22 points.
A minute later, fans started to chant, “We want Joe,” and some teammates wanted to see him go back in the game to try to get his 10th rebound.
“I told him to go back in, but he’s a little more mature than I am,” Donovan Mitchell said.
“Obviously our team, especially (head coach Quin Snyder), isn’t too big on stats and stuff like that, but we felt like it was a special night for Joe, and to top it off with a triple-double would have been more special for him,” Jae Crowder added.
Ingles, though, didn’t want to make the end of the game all about him.
“There was no chance,” he said of the possibility of going back in the game when the chants began. “It’s not me, it’s not our team. We obviously had a lead. Our guys that were in were in. You guys know I’ve never played for that reason, and I never will. … It’s not me. I’m glad we got the win and glad the awareness and the arena was filled out. That was the more important thing for me tonight.”
While some of Ingles’ teammates may have wanted to see him get the triple-double, they, too, recognized that what happened away from game action Wednesday ultimately was more important than a stat line or even the Jazz victory as the playoff chase continues on.
“We have each other’s back,” Rudy Gobert said. “It’s bigger than basketball. …Sometimes there are issues that are more important than if you win or lose a game of basketball. We were able to raise awareness and make a lot of money to help those people. I think it’s great.”
Kyle Korver echoed Gobert’s sentiment of the Jazz’s cohesion, which he felt was on display Wednesday.
“Everyone’s got each other’s back in here for sure,” he said. “What a special night here with Joe. We were ready to do anything we could do for him tonight.”1 comment on this story
A minute later, he added, “There’s a real togetherness here on this team. That’s what you need. Obviously you want a bunch of talent. You want that on your team. You’ve got to have talent. At some point it really matters, but there’s something to chemistry, something to, ‘No matter what, I’ve got this guy’s back.’ That’s a hard thing to calculate, but that’s definitely here with this team.”
On Wednesday before the night’s events had unfolded, Ingles and his wife, Renae, spoke to the media about their son and his diagnosis and praised the Jazz organization for its commitment to helping them with the challenges that have arisen, with Joe Ingles referencing the team slogan.
“‘Team is everything’ and all that, but it really is,” he said. “It’s one big family, and I’m very, very glad that I’m here with the Jazz.”