Utah Connections Fill 2019 NBA Awards Show
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – While Rudy Gobert was technically the only current Utah Jazzman to take home a trophy at the NBA Awards show, the Beehive State’s basketball legacy, both past and future was peppered throughout the ceremonies.
In one of the first presentations of the night, future Jazzman Mike Conley accepted a pair of awards, one for Sportsmanship and another being the Teammate of the Year. Upon receiving the awards, given to Conley for his work last season as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, the veteran point guard acknowledged that the city of Utah (that’s a joke, by the way) will be his next stop in the NBA.
“Utah, I’m looking forward to it,” said Conley. “Let’s go do something special.”
Meanwhile, as Conley gave his acceptance speech, his future head coach Quin Snyder looked on with pride.
The Jazz’s trade for Conley was reported last Wednesday but will not be official until July 6.
Gobert Wins DPOY, Again
Jazz center Rudy Gobert made history later in the show when he received his second consecutive NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Gobert joined a select group of just 10 players in league history to win multiple DPOY awards, a list that includes another great Jazz center, Mark Eaton.
Upon receiving his trophy, Gobert followed in Conley’s footsteps and showed great leadership by thanking his teammates for their help.
“It’s a team game and when you have guys that bring it every night and come every day with the same focus and compete like we do, it’s inspirational,” said Gobert while wearing a flashy midnight blue suit.
Jazz Part Of Best Moment
It was announced on social media that Minnesota’s Derrick Rose had been honored with creating the moment of the year. The award-winning moment was his 50-point performance on Oct. 31. It was a great moment for Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP whose career had been derailed by numerous major injuries.
Yet after all he had been through, he had a career night years after many had assumed his best days were behind him. The team on the wrong end of the best moment of the year: the Utah Jazz, who lost that game to Minnesota and Rose, 1128-125.
Magic, Bird Given Awards
Towards the end of the show, just before Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo received his first NBA MVP award, legendary players Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were given the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Both Bird and Johnson have intertwined careers, having competed in the NBA Finals several times and then going on to careers in NBA front offices, but their story began in Utah.
Forty years ago in March, the two played in the 1979 NCAA Championship game which was held at the Special Events Center (now known as the Huntsman Center) on the campus of the University of Utah. Johnson’s Michigan State squad defeated Bird’s Indiana State Cinderella team, in a 75-64 thriller. That game has since been considered to be a pivotal moment in American basketball history, beginning a rivalry between Johnson and Bird that revolutionized the sport’s popularity. And it all began in Salt Lake City.
While the Milwaukee Bucks could make a case for the best night at the awards show with Antetokounmpo winning MVP, head coach Mike Budenholzer winning Coach of the Year and general manager Jon Horst winning Executive of the Year, the Beehive State also had a starring role in Santa Monica on Monday night.
MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Rookie of the Year: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Most Improved: Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks
Executive of the Year: Jon Horst, Milwaukee Bucks
Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year: Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
Sportsmanship: Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
NBA Cares Community Assist: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
House of Highlights Moment of the Year: Derrick Rose, Minnesota Timberwolves
Lifetime Achievement: Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
Sager Strong: Robin Roberts
Hustle Award: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics