SALT LAKE CITY — A factor in Utah’s loss to Houston was the unavailability of guard Ricky Rubio, who went out in the first quarter of Game 6 against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a hamstring injury.
Rubio talked about it for the first time Wednesday during the “locker cleanout” when every player spoke with the media after talking with members of the Jazz coaching staff and management.
The 27-year-old, who was playing in the NBA playoffs for the first time in his career, revealed that the hamstring was “bothering me for a long time,” going back to the Memphis game he missed in late March and his minutes were limited somewhat after that.
“In the (playoffs), the staff was saying, ‘you need to be careful with that,’ but they’re always saying that. I said when the playoffs start, ‘I don’t care, I’m going to go out there.’ I should have listened more to them, But I didn’t know what could happen.”
And how was it having to sit out the entire Houston series?
“I went through hell, one of the toughest moments in my career,” he said. “It was bittersweet because it was the best moment of my career and one of the worst.”
Now Rubio is using that as motivation for next season.
“I’m going to take that feeling the burning feeling inside of me to go into this summer to use it as fuel and get ready for next season because this is just getting started.”
JOVIAL JOE: Joe Ingles is always good for a laugh as he was more than once in his postseason press conference.
When a reporter prefaced his question by saying “This may be a dumb question,” Ingles said, “I’ll let you know if it’s a dumb question.”
Then when asked how Donovan Mitchell earned the respect of the veterans on the team, he replied, “He hasn’t. Who told you that?”
After the laughter died down, Ingles said, “He’s genuinely a nice kid. He works hard, being respectful, being humble. To be doing what he’s doing at that age and still be able to stay in his lane at his age is pretty impressive. Being around him every day isn’t a surprise because that’s who he is. We’re very lucky to have him.”
NO PRIVATE JETS: Derrick Favors is a free agent this summer and didn’t give any clues as to what his decision will be after playing with the Jazz for seven years, saying, “We’ll see how it goes.”
Last summer Gordon Hayward didn’t make his decision known until early July after a contingent of Jazz players and management paid him a visit to California.
Ingles said Favors doesn’t want any special treatment this summer.
“Fave told me that I didn’t need to fly on a private jet to see him and just to FaceTime him. He said 'don’t waste your time, just FaceTime me.'”
RUDY’S KIDS: When Favors took his turn at the podium he was wearing a custom T-shirt with a picture of a young-looking Rudy Gobert with glasses and longer hair and the words “Rudy’s Kids” below, in reference to Gobert’s Foundation "Rudy’s Kids."
“I think it’s a great picture,” Favors said with a smile. “Just supporting the cause.”
Later when Gobert took his turn on the stage, he acknowledged he’d seen Favors wearing the shirt and said, “It’s a good-looking kid on the front.”
JAZZ NOTES: Donovan Mitchell said he’s going to work hard and not have “a victory-lap summer,” after his phenomenal rookie season. He did say that he plans to join teammate Ekpe Udoh at the EuroLeague Final Four next week in Serbia . . . Mitchell also said he plans to watch all 93 games the Jazz played this year to see how he can get better . . . General manager Dennis Lindsey had great things to say about Dante Exum and said the team “hopes to retain” Exum in free agency . . . After going until after 4 p.m. last year, the Jazz interviews wrapped up by 2 p.m. on Wednesday.