SALT LAKE CITY — Well before the doors of Vivint Arena popped open around 5:30 p.m. Friday night, Robert Walters stood with his son, Dylan, and nephew, Dallas Rowley, in front of hundreds of other eager Utah Jazz fans.
They were among the first wave of folks waiting in anticipation for the free “Meet the Team” event during which Jazz players treated them to a 3-point shooting contest.
Walters said they initially arrived close to 2 p.m.
“Just excited for the year to start,” Robert Walters said. “Donovan Mitchell is quite the player and I’d like to get a close up and see the real deal. This is awesome and the Jazz community is sparking like it used to with John Stockton and Karl Malone.”
The fan-friendly event concluded the first week of training camp. It also came on the eve of Saturday’s preseason opener versus the Perth Wildcats from Australia.
“It’s definitely fun to have that fan interaction with them and to go out there and have a good time to feel the support that they give us,” said Jazz forward Derrick Favors.
An exclusive Utah Jazz-branded Nike Team Store also made its grand opening Friday at Vivint Arena in conjunction with the event as players broke out the classic purple uniforms during the 3-point shootout.
Here is a quick tour of the brand new Utah Jazz-branded @Nike Team Store inside @vivintarena. Today is the grand opening. #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/PfWxL4a5yR— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) September 28, 2018
But before guys began competition, Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert was introduced in the middle of the court to showcase his new hardware. Fans cheered as he lifted the trophy in the air as a badge of honor then he instructed Grayson Allen and the Jazz rookies have a silly dance-off.
Donovan Mitchell led the trash talk on social media, but Iowa State teammates Naz Mitrou-Long and Georges Niang were crowned champions of the 3-point contest as the players were paired into teams consisting of a guard/wing and a big man.
An impromptu half-court shooting challenge wrapped up the evening as funnyman Joe Ingles roasted teammates on the microphone.
“Donovan didn’t win that shooting competition,” Ingles joked. “So don’t cheer for him anymore until tomorrow night.”
As part of rookie hazing, Rudy Gobert makes Grayson Allen and the Utah Jazz’s first-year players compete in a dance-off during the Meet the Team event. 😂 pic.twitter.com/veVWLBZEB8— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) September 29, 2018