Former Jazzmen Who Returned To Boos In Salt Lake
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – There are several players Utah Jazz fans love, even after they’ve left the organization. There are a select few who return to Salt Lake to boos and jeers.
Fans love to cheer to players like Thurl “Big T” Bailey, Bryon Russell, Paul Millsap, CJ Miles, Andrei Kirilenko and Kyle Korver before he returned to the team this year.
Some players have chosen to leave Utah for other teams and more money – or have had negative things to say about the Beehive State or their former team and/or fans once they’re in a new town.
Below is our list of the Top 5 players who have given Jazz fans plenty of reasons not to like them.
Derek Fisher – Gets Out Of Contract
Five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher came to the Jazz in a trade with Golden State at the end of the 2006 season.
Having won three titles with the Lakers prior to his Jazz tenure, Utahns were excited to get a player with his credentials and a championship pedigree.
Fans and Fisher were an instant match. After being spoiled by 19 seasons with one of the best point guards in NBA history in John Stockton, Fisher brought a new energy to the arena.
While in Salt Lake City, Fisher’s daughter got sick with a rare form of eye cancer.
During the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals, Fisher famously showed up after the start of Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors after having flown in from New York City, where his daughter had surgery.
At his request, the organization let him out of his contract so his family could relocate to a city where his daughter could get treatment from a specialist.
Just 17 days after being released by the Jazz, Fisher signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only did he leave for the Lakers but he also won an NBA title after leaving the Jazz.
“We had Larry Miller on SportsBeat back then when it happened and he trusted Derek,” said KSL Sports’ Jeremiah Jensen on KSL’s Unrivaled. “He gave him the benefit of the doubt and felt that he was doing the right thing for Derek and his family.”
Several fans felt he hadn’t been completely honest about his intentions.
“Looking back, (it appeared) he just wanted to go back to the Lakers,” said Jensen.
Deron Williams – Locker Room Argument With Jerry Sloan
A lot of Utah Jazz fans blame Williams back in 2011 for forcing legendary head coach Jerry Sloan to early retirement. The two got into an argument during halftime over Sloan not letting Williams to freelance plays and keep his teammates in the loop. The next day Sloan stepped down as the Jazz head coach, and two weeks later Williams was traded away.
Williams was drafted by the Jazz with the third overall pick in the 2005 draft. He spent six years in Salt Lake City. As he was entering the final year of his contract, Williams mentioned that he would not likely sign an extension, so Utah wanted to get some assets in return rather than Williams walking in free agency. That’s when the well documented argument with Jazz legend Jerry Sloan happened.
“He (Williams) has since come out and said some things about how he missed and had a really great thing here,” Jensen said.
In September, 2018, Williams went to Sloan’s home to apologize for everything that transpired back in 2011.
“What he did to the Jazz organization, I am not going to be all that forgiving for his actions,” KSL Unrivaled co-host Scott Mitchell said.
Gordon Hayward – Takes Max Deal To Join Celtics
Hayward could have been the man for the Utah Jazz, and arguably he already was, but when he became a free agent at the end of the 2017 season, he had a choice to make. Ultimately he left the Jazz to go to the Eastern Conference and sign a maximum contract with the Boston Celtics where he teamed up with his former college coach, Brad Stevens.
“A lot of the hate and anger towards him has changed to sort of feeling bad for him because things have not gone well for him since he left,” Jensen said. “That is what Jazz fans have hoped. You really won’t like him, if he goes and becomes an All-Star in Boston and goes to the NBA Finals,” he added.
The way that Hayward departed from Salt Lake City was the big reason for the boos that he has received when he plays in Utah. He waited until the fourth of July to announce where he will go, when free agency opened on July 1.
It came down to Utah, Boston or Miami as his final three choices of where he will play basketball. He wrote a letter to Jazz fans on the Players Tribune that also announced that he was going to play for the Celtics.
Since joining the Celtics, Hayward broke his leg in a gruesome injury in the season opener of his first game in a Celtics uniform. He missed the entire 2017-18 season. This year, the former Jazzman is averaging 11 points per game, which is the second lowest average of his career. His first was his rookie season with the Jazz in 2010-11.
Mark Jackson – Claimed To Be Better Than John Stockton
The former NBA guard had just one year in a Jazz uniform and he made the ultimate sin by trying to make the case to his teammates that he should be in the starting lineup over future Hall of Famer John Stockton. Of course, that did not sit well over anyone that was a Utah Jazz fan.
“Back in the 2002-03 season the one year Mark Jackson was here he became locker room lawyer,” Jensen said. “He was starting to break up the Jazz locker room over the fact that he thought he should be starting over John Stockton.”
Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen wrote a piece on this incident.
[Stockton] may be getting a push out the door by his new backup this season and the No. 2 man on the career assist list, 38-year-old Mark Jackson. Three members of the Jazz organization now understand why Jackson has been traded seven times in his 16-year career: They say that over a period of weeks, he succeeded in turning several teammates against Stockton by repeatedly remarking that those players would be better off if Jackson were the Jazz’s floor leader. Other players* rallied around Stockton, who, because of his quiet nature, was vulnerable to the locker room politicking. The rift on the Jazz was mended, though not before Stockton’s pride had been wounded. “There was no question it hurt John, because you could see him withdraw,” says a high-ranking team official. “But he’ll never talk about it, just as he won’t talk about injuries, because then he feels like he’s making excuses for himself.”
Sloan reached a breaking point in mid-January, when he lost his temper over the divisiveness on his team and stormed out of the gym during practice. He was threatening to retire then and there, only to be dissuaded at an emergency meeting called by team owner Larry Miller, president Dennis Haslam, general manager Kevin O’Connor and Sloan’s wife, Bobbye. “That had the real potential of Jerry saying, ‘To heck with it,’ and walking away,” says Miller, who believes that Sloan’s seven-game suspension for shoving referee Courtney Kirkland on Jan. 28 was the result of his built-up frustrations.”
Jackson’s time with the Jazz was his second to last stop in his NBA career. He played for seven different teams in his 17-year NBA career. Jackson’s last year in the NBA was in 2004, he became the head coach of the Warriors for three years before returning to ESPN as an analyst.
Enes Kanter – Trashes Jazz On His Way Out
The Utah Jazz drafted Kanter and helped develop him into a pretty good NBA player, but his payment in return is to say negative things about Salt Lake City and the Jazz organization when he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kanter said the difference between Oklahoma City and Salt Lake City was “everything.”
“The fans, the coaches, the team, the atmosphere is amazing,” Kanter said back in 2015. “Everything is falling into place and I’ve never felt anything like that before. It’s so different.”
Kanter said he didn’t enjoy the game of basketball when he was playing for the Jazz, but when he was traded to the Thunder, he finally started enjoying the game.
“It wasn’t just basketball stuff. It was the professionalism of the team. After I see in OKC, I see this is how NBA teams are. Oklahoma City’s been like that to me,” Kanter said.
“He (Kanter) is so hard to take seriously as he is a big goofball and obsessed with pro wrestling, and it felt like he was trying to play the part of the heal in a pro wrestling match,” Jensen said.
After his three seasons with the Jazz, Kanter spent two seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks before being waived and signed with the Portland Trail Blazers on February 13.
Trey Lyles – Bashes Quin Snyder
Lyles was drafted by the Jazz with the 12th pick in the 2015 draft. He spent two seasons with Utah before being traded on draft night in 2017 for Donovan Mitchell to the Denver Nuggets.
He averaged 6.1 points per game during his rookie season and 6.2 points in his second season.
When Lyles was traded to Denver, he appeared on fellow teammate Richard Jefferson’s “Road Trippin” podcast in April, 2018. That was when he released all of his frustration on his time with the Jazz. Lyles had a problem with Utah head coach Quin Snyder about holding three hour practices.
“Lyles wanted to really get out of town and bagged on Quinn Snyder and his multi-hour practices and was just not into the Jazz,” Jensen said.
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