When the Utah Jazz elected to head south for training camp, it wasn’t an idea built solely from head coach Quin Snyder.
According to him, he spoke with multiple members of the team and they all came to the same conclusion; implement the same environment from the NBA bubble in 2020.
“When we had talked about this, I talked with a few guys on the team,” Snyder said. “Donovan (Mitchell) and I spoke about it, his instinct was ‘hey, it would help us to get away.’ I’ve thought about it before as well. … Anytime a player that you’re close with and you trust, you kind of come to a conclusion or idea independently and they line up, that’s a good sign.”
Snyder remembers vividly how special their time in Orlando was, even if the ultimate goal of a championship came up short.
What couldn’t be replaced was the cohesiveness gained from spending months together away from the hustle and bustle of regular life. From the ping pong battles to eating dinner and walking to practice together inside the hotel, it was a special time where Utah began to develop an identity.
That’s why a majority of last season was based around the development of said identity, a mission Snyder believes they accomplished that’s now setting the stage for future success.
“What happened for us in the bubble was that because of the situation, we were around each other a lot,” Snyder said. “It wasn’t just a two-hour dinner where everybody is going to spend time together, it was all the little moments that you just don’t get. There are so many different things that are important so that’s why we wanted to keep it shorter but also be in a place where we didn’t have to get on a bus.”
For Snyder and the team, it was the little things that made the most difference throughout camp. From the massive posters of the players cascading from the ceiling to the imported basketball courts from Salt Lake City, there was a very distinctive “home” vibe that allowed the players more comfort.
“I really wouldn’t have conceived of putting a basketball court in a ballroom but we saw that in Orlando and I think that was something that was important,” Snyder said. “We wanted to make it first class in the sense that when the players walked in, they could feel that this isn’t vacation, this is a real training camp. At the same time, I think it provided us opportunities to be around one another. … And maybe more than anything for the new players, that’s as helpful as anything we do X and O.”
With training camp now over and the team heading back to Salt Lake City, the general vibe is that it not only served its purpose on the court, but off it as well.
“Obviously for the new guys I think it’s cool to get to know each other, not as a basketball player but as a human being first,” Rudy Gobert said. “Overall the last few years, we’ve always done stuff together as a team. To be one of the teams that is closest outside the court, it should help us when we go through those tough moments.”
Utah will have an open practice on Saturday before playing in its first preseason game, a road trip to San Antonio, on Monday night. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. MST.