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When the Utah Jazz kicked off training camp this week with their annual media day, I found myself breathing a sign of relief, and I have to imagine that Jazz fans are also feeling the same thing.
It wasn’t only because vaccinated beat reporters were able to conduct in-person interviews this season, which means my readers will be able to enjoy more in-depth and well-rounded content. I also realized that for the first time in a long time, I’m heading into an NBA season and there is seemingly no controversy, drama or scandal surrounding the team that I cover. Instead, we can all really focus on Jazz basketball.
When I was covering the Philadelphia 76ers it was one thing after another: Ben Simmons avoiding the 3-point line, Brett Brown maybe getting fired every season, No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz mysteriously unable to shoot a basketball, a general manager who was ousted after the Burnergate scandal.
Then I came to Utah and after only being on the job for three months, the Jazz were at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic and the NBA shutdown. The franchise’s All-Star duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert both tested positive for the coronavirus, then there was tension between the two stars and concerns about their relationship, then concerns about their upcoming contract extensions.
Leading up to training camp, teams around the league have had rocky starts. Players in other markets have pushed back on being vaccinated, causing distractions from the upcoming season. There are players who are trying to force trades, players not showing up to training camp, injuries that already have some fan bases worrying about their team’s chances and teams that are unsure what their roster is even going to look like.
But on Monday, Jazz general manager Justin Zanik announced that the entire Jazz organization was 100% vaccinated, then one-by-one players filed into a press conference room and they all had smiles on their faces, excited to for the upcoming 82-game grind. No distractions, no controversy, nothing holding them back. Just basketball.
Jazz fans, your team is in a good spot right now and the 2021-22 season is right around the corner. In the word’s of Donovan Mitchell on a game day, “Let’s go!”
This week on ‘Unsalvageable’
Check out “Unsalvageable: A Utah Jazz Podcast,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster). This week, the crew catches up on news around the league, says farewell to Jarrell Brantley and praises Jordan Clarkson for yet again being the coolest Jazz player.
From the archives
This week in Jazz history
On Sept. 26, 2017, the Utah Jazz unveiled the J-Note statue in front of Vivint Arena, now a beloved part of the Jazz experience where fans take pictures before and after games or even when just exploring the city.
- Jazz’s expectations are ‘no secret’ this season (The Athletic)
- Rudy Gay to miss preseason as he recovers from offseason heel surgery (Deseret News)
- Utah Jazz teaming with KSL to broaden radio coverage (Deseret News)
- NBA refs want to crack down on some of the tricks scorers use to draw fouls (Salt Lake Tribune)
Around the league
New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson to miss time after offseason surgery to repair broken foot.
NBA officials will no longer review late-game out-of-bounds calls.
Players who are unvaccinated and can’t play will not get paid.
Up next: NBA preseason
Oct. 4 | 6:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ San Antonio Spurs | AT&T SportsNet
Oct. 6 | 6 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Dallas Mavericks | AT&T SportsNet
Oct. 11 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans | AT&T SportsNet
Oct. 13 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Milwaukee Bucks | AT&T SportsNet