Here to win
Why I'm staying in Utah
I was raised on Cleveland Avenue on the south side of Atlanta.
You’d probably get a good laugh if you saw where I learned to play. My best friend would be on the street shooting into a recycling bin. Then he got a new hoop and a trampoline for Christmas. After that we learned how to play on the bent goal we broke while we were dunking.
I love Atlanta. It’s my home. Atlanta—my mother, my family, my friends, the city—shaped me in so many ways.
But Utah is my home, too.
This is where I grew up.
Man, I still remember all the trade rumors my rookie season in New Jersey. I came into the practice facility one day after the All-Star break and the assistant GM told me to go home, that I was being traded. I asked where but he couldn’t tell me. By the time I got to the apartment, I sat down on the couch and flipped on the TV. That’s when I saw it. Breaking news. I was going to Utah.
I didn’t say too much on the flight out of New Jersey. It was a relief but at the same time I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anything about Utah, to tell you the truth. When I got out here, I looked around and researched Utah, went out and saw the scenery, started meeting people and I just grew to love it.
I guess I got comfortable.
The Jazz always believed in me. Kevin O’Connor was my guy. He traded for me. Dennis Lindsey is always straight with me. My strength coach, Mark McKown, has been there for me since day one.
The fans always believed in me, too. They welcomed me with open arms when I got here. They stuck with me through the good and the bad. How many games did we win that one year? Twenty-five? Man, that was tough to deal with. But we were just getting started. And that’s what makes last year and the year before more special. To finally reap the rewards from being patient with that, man, that was a good feeling.
Last year was a little different for me personally. I had to sacrifice a lot. I had to sacrifice touches. I had to sacrifice shots, minutes, everything really. But I knew it was best for the team. I had to find a way to just make an impact. It was worth the sacrifice.
We won a lot of games, made it to the second round of the playoffs.
But now I want more.
I want to win a championship.
We’ve got a good team. You’ve gotta give credit to Dennis. He brought in a group of guys with great attitudes. No one’s selfish, no egos or anything like that.
We’ve got a good core. Donovan surprised a lot of people. I don’t think anybody expected him to have the type of year he had. He’s a hard worker. He’s a hooper. You just get him the ball and tell him to go. Rudy … I was here when he couldn’t catch the ball two feet away from him. He’s improved a lot. He’s the Defensive Player of the Year. I’m proud of him. And I want to show people that we can play together, so you can just throw that question away. Joe is my guy. I love Joe. I don’t know what my life would be like without Joe Ingles. Everybody respects what he has to say, which is good because he’s always going to talk whether you like it or not. When you see him, you don’t think he’s going to be that good at basketball until he steps on the court. I’m glad I’m one of his teammates.
We’ve got a great coaching staff. Quin Snyder means a lot to me. He’s one of the best coaches in the NBA. I don’t think he gets enough credit. He does a wonderful job. Sometimes we do have three-hour practices, but I don’t complain about that. He’s a great coach to play for. He’s a player’s coach. He’s always thinking of ways to get each guy involved.
We’ve got great owners. The Millers, they’ll do whatever they’ve got to do to make sure we’re comfortable and we’ll win.
That’s why I’m staying in Utah.