‘The Pied Piper Of Utah’ Mike Conley Helped Build 2019 Jazz Team
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Picture this: new Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley marching toward Vivint Smart Home Arena, playing a magical clarinet with other players following blindly so they can play with him. Well, that is kind of how the offseason looked.
It’s kind of hard to picture, at least the part about Conley cruising around with an enchanted musical instrument, but convincing others to follow him and play for the Utah Jazz? That’s not so hard to believe and it is why Jazz Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey called Conley a Pied Piper.
“(Conley is) more like Tim Duncan like in what he does, more so than what he says. And that created a little bit of forward momentum with Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Bojan (Bogdanovic),” said Lindsey during Jazz media day.
Lindsey’s description of Conley as the Pied Piper of Utah caught the new point guard off his guard, but he did not deny his role in recruiting others to come to Salt Lake City.
“I’ve had a lot of relationships with guys throughout my career,” said Conley. “And I just want to win. So whoever (the Jazz) were looking at, (they) let me know. And whatever I can do to help whether it’s texting or calling guys. And it just so happens that Jeff (Green) and guys like Ed (Davis) and Emmanuel (Mudiay), I would give them a call and see where their mind is at and tell them if they want to win and be part of a good culture, this is the place to be. They all bought in.”
Maybe Conley should go into sales and marketing, or maybe his reputation as a good player, great teammate and exceptional leader precedes him.
“I saw an opportunity to get better especially with Mike,” said Mudiay. “When (Conley) reached out to me, I felt like ‘forget about the starting role, just go learn as much as you can and try to get on a winning program’…And when you’re winning you learn so much.”
Conley downplayed any thought of him taking over as the main leader of this team.
“I’m just coming to be myself. I’m not going to be overwhelming or take over the room, because these guys have played together for a while. Donovan is a great leader, Joe is a great leader, Rudy is a great leader. All these guys lead in different ways…I demand a lot out of myself which means I demand a lot out of the team. I just like to practice what I preach. If I want guys to be in early or be more professional. I need to be showing that as well…that’s how I’ve always been. It’s easier because I can just be myself.”
It looks like just being himself has, so far, paid off for the Pied Piper of Utah.