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Collin Sexton’s shorts and ‘Young Bull’ moment, Walker Kessler’s apology and some advice from Michael Malone

Four moments from the Utah Jazz’s opening night that will make you laugh

SHARE Collin Sexton’s shorts and ‘Young Bull’ moment, Walker Kessler’s apology and some advice from Michael Malone
Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton yells

Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) reacts as the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets play at Vivint Arena on opening night in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

No matter what happens with the Utah Jazz, fans will always have opening night and the excitement that came with it.

The Jazz surprisingly beat the Denver Nuggets in a convincing win with highlights across the roster, giving Will Hardy a perfect record as an NBA head coach.

But the excitement of the night also led to some pretty hilarious and fun moments that had nothing to do with x’s and o’s.

Wardrobe whoopsie

Not long after the Utah Jazz took to the court for their season-opener on Wednesday night, some fans noticed that there was something wrong with Collin Sexton’s uniform — his shorts were on backwards.

When I asked Sexton if he knew, he said that at some point someone told him, but by the time it came to going out on the court, he’d already forgotten about the fashion faux pas. Then once he remembered, he was already in the game. He certainly wasn’t going to make a change then and there.

Young Bull unleashes

Shorts on backwards or not, Sexton wasn’t deterred in the slightest. It’s important at this point to note that Sexton’s nickname is Young Bull.

The Bull went on a tear against the Nuggets. He scored 20 points off the bench and was electric in the final minutes of the game. In the moments leading up to his final scoring drive of the game, Sexton stood at the top of the arc with the ball, staring at reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who just a couple possessions earlier had been hit with an offensive foul when Sexton drew a charge.

Sexton scraped his right foot against the hardwood, like a bull readying to charge a matador. He stood unmoving for six more seconds and then after Jokic made the smallest of stepping motions, Sexton took off like a shot out of a canon.

He went straight at Jokic, got the step on him, leaned left and scored around the outstretched arms of the MVP.

If he’d been doing what it looked like he was doing, then that’s a really bold statement from the young guard. But there were many who thought that it was something less braggadocios.

The theory was that Sexton was making sure the floor wasn’t slippery because Jokic had taken a tumble in almost the same spot on the previous possession. But when I asked Sexton after the game if he was wiping away sweat on the court, or doing something else, he didn’t mention the feel of the court.

“Honestly that was the one for me where I felt like, ok if he steps I’m going around him,” Sexton said with a smirk. “So it was basically like, the Bull is back.”

Rookie apologies

Sexton wasn’t the only one who had a good night. Rookie Walker Kessler was incredible in his 23 minutes of the bench, finishing with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double in his NBA debut.

But when he walked off the court on Wednesday, he was only focused on one thing.

“He apologized at the end of the game for his free throws,” head coach Will Hardy said. “I was like, ‘dude, you played great. Don’t worry about it. You don’t ever need to apologize to me for missing free throws.’”

Though Kessler disagreed that it was a full blown apology.

“Okay, let me — I didn’t apologize,” Kessler said laughing. “I just made a statement. ‘Coach, I’ve got to hit more free throws.’ Does that sound like an apology?”

When the room full of reporters said that it did sort of sound like an apology, Kessler laughed again and had some fun with the media contingent.

“Well there goes the media,” Kessler said, jokingly throwing his hands up. “Twisting my words.”

Kessler went on to say that for his coach to be supportive of him and not mad about the free throws after the game and to have helped him so much over the last few weeks means the world to him.

Words of wisdom

Ahead of Wednesday night’s game, Hardy’s debut as an NBA head coach, I asked Michael Malone, head coach of the Denver Nuggets, to take us back to his first game as a head coach.

He reminisced about his first game as the coach of the Sacramento Kings, beating the Denver Nuggets — now a first-time coaching experience that he and Hardy have in common — before giving this piece of unfiltered advice for Hardy.

“When you’re a first year head coach, at least for me, I was coaching every dribble,” Malone said. “You are fighting for your life. Every possession matters. You’re over coaching. You are trying to prove to yourself, ‘I am worthy of this job.’ The best thing for me is now eight years into Denver, I don’t give a [bleep]. I’m very comfortable with who I am, where I’m at. This job is not one where you have to worry about keeping people happy. My advice to Will — just be yourself.”