SALT LAKE CITY — Alec Burks might have been the happiest person in Utah Jazz camp on Wednesday.
And it had nothing to do with basketball, which by all accounts, he’s succeeding at quite nicely this fall.
Rather, the Kansas City native (Grandview, Missouri) was still basking in the Royals’ extra-inning 9-8 Wild Card win over the A’s, which pushed his hometown team further into the playoffs than they’d been in almost three decades.
“It’s been a long time,” the 23-year-old Burks said, when it was mentioned that K.C. hasn’t been to the American League Division Series in 29 years. “I’ve been in Kansas City my whole life. I know the history of it.”
Burks, who attended one Royals game this summer and called it "crazy," watched Tuesday’s play-in playoff with his older brother from Salt Lake City. Quite frankly, he felt a bit bummed he couldn’t be a few states east of Utah.
“Exciting times. If I was back in Kansas City right now, it would’ve been fun. This is great for the city. The Chiefs won the day before, so it’s great,” Burks said. “They’re going crazy back home, because (we haven’t) seen something like that in a long time.”
To put it in perspective, if the Jazz do a Royals-like rebuild, Utah won’t be back in the playoffs again until 2041.
CAMP CONTINUES: Coach Quin Snyder likes what he’s seen from his team so far in camp. He has no qualms with the players’ conditioning, saying the guys were professional in their preparation. And he’s happy with their effort in practices, which reconvene Friday morning after Snyder gave the team Thursday off.
“We’re working hard,” he said. “That’s the biggest trend.”
ONE REQUEST: Snyder will demand a lot from his players, and he’s mentioned that accountability will be a big factor in determining who plays and doesn’t.
For now, he has one requirement that trumps all.
“The biggest thing I’ve asked them,” he said, “is to be unselfish, to have obvious unselfishness, have it resonate when people watch us practice.”
BETTER THAN BASEBALL: Even with his Royals’ success, there isn’t anything that gets Burks pumped up like playing meaningful basketball. Burks’ response when asked what he’s most excited about in training camp: “Season’s about to start. That’s the most exciting thing in the world.”