"Basketball Has Evolved Over The Years" | Thurl Bailey To Host Basketball Camp At The End Of June

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

When Thurl Bailey makes his nightly walk from the court to the broadcast booth at Vivint Arena (to-be Delta Center), he knows he needs to leave earlier than expected. 

Always dressed impeccably in matching suits and Jordan’s, Bailey sticks out in a crowd of diehard basketball fans. Everyone calls out his nickname, “Big T,” during the walk, hoping to get a glance and wave from one of Utah’s best-known former players. Even those brave enough to approach and ask for a photo, Bailey is almost always accommodating, squeezing his 6-foot-11 figure into the frame. 

Fans won’t have to wait until the Jazz return to the court to get a glimpse of Bailey. 

Alongside his son, Brendan, Bailey will host a three-day basketball camp at the Karl Malone Training Center in Lehi. From June 27-29, the camp will be open for boys and girls in grades K-12, broken down into specific time frames depending on grade. 

For more information and registration, click HERE.

“Basketball as a sport has evolved over the years, but the fundamentals of the game are ageless,” Bailey said. “Young players will learn how to become familiar and comfortable with basic level skills in ball handling, passing, and shooting. As they put the work in with practice and correct coaching, their skills will flourish. … More advanced players will learn how to prepare to make their school and club teams, and what it takes to compete on both ends of the court.”

Bailey was drafted by the Jazz with the No. 7 overall pick in 1983. He quickly acclimated to the Jazz faithful, becoming a fan favorite with his unique skillset and smiling personality. 

A starter for most of his first two seasons in Utah, he was relegated to a sixth-man role when Utah drafted Hall-of-Famer Karl Malone. Rather than seeking a trade, Bailey thrived in his new role, averaging 19+ points per game in 87-88 and 88-89. He finished second in the Sixth Man of the Year voting in both seasons. 

“I was fortunate to play at a time when the Jazz were just starting to build a winning culture,” Bailey said. “My rookie season was the first time the Jazz made the playoffs. … The following year in 1985, the Jazz selected John Stockton, then the next year they selected Karl Malone. Career-wise, I was able to play alongside two future Hall of Famers in front of the league’s best fans.”

However, his love of Utah goes far beyond what happened on the basketball court. It’s where his life changed forever, in large part to a community that loved and embraced him. 

“Ultimately, I met my wife of almost 30 years here in Utah. … So it goes without saying that we’ve been a part of the fabric of Utah way beyond my playing days,” he said. “I’ve had the community’s support in other endeavors during my time here. … My music, my youth and corporate speaking, and now my broadcasting as one of the voices of the Utah Jazz. In order to have that, parents have to trust that I will always strive to be a good example to them and their families in all that I do.”

SACRAMENTO - 1990: Thurl Bailey of the Utah Jazz shoots a foul shot against the Sacramento Kings circa 1990 at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Copyright 1990 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

That’s why giving back to the community that has accepted him since day one has been a no-brainer. It’s why he’s been putting on basketball camps in the Salt Lake area for over 20 years and has called Utah home for the past 35 years. 

And being able to do the camp with his son makes it even sweeter. 

“There’s an indescribable feeling of joy that I’m able to be a part of something that serves others, but it’s even a greater joy when I’m able to have my kids involved in the process,” Bailey said. “All of my kids grew up around sports, but not all chose basketball. ... But they all understand that they learned some of their most important life lessons from participating in sports. Brendan has helped me at basketball camps since he was old enough to dribble. … Now he’s a professional player and an incredible teacher and coach.”

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - NOVEMBER 17: Brendan Bailey #1 of the Salt Lake City Stars looks on during the game against the Santa Cruz Warriors at Bruin Arena on November 17, 2021 in Taylorsville Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

While camps run throughout the valley for much of the summer, Bailey cherishes the fact that he can give the kids something he didn’t have when growing up: belief. 

“At the time, I was 6’5” tall and 6’7” tall, respectively, and I was cut from my middle school basketball team two years in a row,” Bailey said. “I wasn’t a great player, but it changed my life when the next coach saw something in me and told me that ‘I had potential.’” 

“Sometimes that’s all a kid needs to hear,” he added. “He or she may or may not turn out to be a high-level athlete, but I like to use sport as a vehicle to help young people