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What Jazz rookie Simone Fontecchio really thinks about Joe Ingles

At the Utah Jazz’s annual media day on Monday, the 26-year-old Italian rookie cleared up something that was lost in translation back in 2020.

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Utah Jazz’s Simone Fontecchio , wearing purple, speaks

Utah Jazz’s Simone Fontecchio speaks during a news conference for the NBA basketball team’s media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Joe Ingles is not Simone Fontecchio’s idol.

At the Utah Jazz’s annual media day on Monday, the 26-year-old Italian rookie cleared up something that was lost in translation back in 2020.

During the Tokyo Olympics, following an Australia win over Italy during the group stage of competition, Ingles spoke with reporters, one of which said that the day prior, Fontecchio had named Ingles as an idol, which, at the time, prompted a very Ingles-like response.

“I’m who’s idol?” Ingles asked. “... He needs a better idol. I’d never seen him play before. Watching the scout for the last game and obviously playing against him tonight, we were just Googling where he played this year. I’m surprised that he is not in one of the biggest teams in Europe. He’s a really good player... Maybe I’ll go give him my jersey or something. I’m very surprised.”

But on Monday, Fontecchio couldn’t help but laugh at the situation because while he said he loved playing against Ingles and admires his game and respects him, he never called him an idol.

“The reporter that asked me the question misunderstood,” Fontecchio said with a laugh. “The day before the reporter had asked me who I liked from the Australian team. Of course I said Joe because it was my same role. The next day after the game, they told him that he was my idol. Joe of course joked about it.”

There are certainly some similarities between Fontecchio and Ingles. They both played in Europe for years before making their way to the NBA, they both ended up with the Jazz and they both play the same position, like Fontecchio said.

And while there are definitely things from Ingles’ game that Fontecchio would happily take on, and he would love to have a long and successful career like Ingles has, the rookie isn’t trying to be like someone else, but is instead working on being the best version of himself.