Facebook Twitter

Marshall happy to be with Jazz

5-year career was with the NBA’s most inept team

SHARE Marshall happy to be with Jazz

Donyell Marshall endured gloom with Golden State, some days so dark he dreaded the thought of taking his young sons to Chuck E Cheese.

That's right, Chuck E Cheese: The pizza parlor whose patrons proved positively punishing for a Warrior like Marshall.

"It was a difficult situation," Marshall said of his five-plus seasons with one of the NBA's most inept teams in recent history.

How hard?

"My kids wanted to go to . . . Chuck E Cheese to hang out," Marshall said. "(Losing) made it difficult for me to go to places sometimes, because the way the fans were there (in Oakland), they were always asking questions: 'Why can't you win? Why can't you do this? Why can't you do that?' "

"Daddy, Daddy, pass me a slice of pepperoni."

"Excuse me, Mr. Marshall? Why does your team get cut up more than a 16-inch pie? Why do the Warriors get tossed aside like someone's leftover crust?"

"It just got to the point," Marshall said, "where you didn't want to face it after a while."

He doesn't have to anymore.

Marshall was the Jazz's big catch in the nine-player, four-team deal that went down Wednesday, one which also, in part, sent Jazz guard Howard Eisley to Dallas in a sign-and-trade and Jazz forward Adam Keefe to Golden State.

In town Thursday for a formal press conference at the Delta Center, Marshall, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound forward, made it clear that he was pleased to be in Utah.

"First of all," Marshall said with the initial words out of his mouth, "I would like to say how ecstatic I am to be here. You know, to come from Golden State, which was an up-and-coming team, to a team of this caliber, and be able to go to the playoffs, where I haven't been in my career — I'm just very excited."

That's right: Six seasons in the NBA, and Marshall has never participated in a post-season game. That fact alone explains why is he is so happy to be joining the Jazz.

"I'm already nervous thinking about the first game in the playoffs," said Marshall, who was traded from Minnesota to Golden State a half-season after the Timberwolves made the University of Connecticut product the fourth overall selection in the 1994 NBA Draft. "I'm used to, the last couple of years, thinking, 'We could still win here, still win there, and, if we play well, we might be able to get the eighth seed.'

"Now," Marshall added, "I'm looking at, 'Maybe we can go up to the No. 2 or No. 1 seed and play well.' It's very fun. . . . I haven't slept in the last two or three days, and I still get nervous, and my palms get sweaty, just thinking about the fact I am going to go to the playoffs for the first time in my career."

Marshall lost a few winks over the past several nights, too, to the fact that this complex trade was about a week in the making and took longer to complete than some expected.

"Every night before I went to bed, I prayed to God to just get it done," said Marshall, who came straight to Salt Lake from Hawaii, where he was working out in Pete Newell's Big Man Camp, an off-season training opportunity for NBA forwards and centers looking to polish their game.

At Golden State, Marshall was a starter who averaged 14.2 points and 10 rebounds per game this past season. He is also expected to play an integral role in Utah but probably will do so more as a bench player than he has been accustomed to in the past.

Not a problem, said Marshall's agent, Dwight Manley, who happens to represent Jazz starters Karl Malone and Olden Polynice.

"He's been on the other side," said Manley, who has been lobbying Golden State officials to trade his client to Utah, among other teams, for the past two years. "So he doesn't take for granted what he's about to embark on."

Nor does he arrive with unrealistic expectations.

"Even though I averaged 14, I averaged a lot of it just within the offense, and getting offensive rebounds and put-backs and stuff," said Marshall, who does not consider himself as much of a go-to player in Golden State as his numbers indicate he was. "So, I mean, when you're going to play next to (two-time NBA MVP) Karl Malone, you let him be the focal point. You're going to get your points yourself on the double-downs, and running the floor, and (via) offensive rebounding.

"Really," he added, "there's no change of role for me, except for playing with a more-dominant player." He will, however, do it on a much-more dominant team than the Warriors, which is what really excites Marshall.

"My understanding of my job is to go out there and do whatever is possible to help this team, whether it be rebounds, play defense, score — whatever it is," said Marshall.

"I do know that offensive rebounding, as well as probably overall rebounding, was a problem for the Jazz last year, and hopefully I can come in and help that out," added Marshall, a great-nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer Lenny Moore. "You know, one thing I like to do is rebound. I think it excites myself, and it excites the players. And the way Karl (Malone) can run the floor, or I can run the floor, and Bryon Russell can run the floor — if we get that rebound, and we get it in John (Stockton's) hands, I think we're going to bring a lot of excitement to the crowd."

If he does, Marshall can walk, kids in tow, into any Chuck E Cheese — there just happens to be one on State Street in Sandy — with his head held high.