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Mike Conley Sees NBA Return As Chance To Find Better Rhythm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As 22 NBA teams prepare to resume the season at month’s end, physical and emotional readiness will be at the forefront of many players’ minds. For Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, personal readiness isn’t in doubt. Conley sees the NBA’s return as a chance to find a better rhythm.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11 when Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. While much of the league awaited word from the NBA on the future of the season, Conley was keeping himself ready.

“I was lucky enough to be in a situation where I had a lot of resources at my disposal during this period of time,” Conley said.

Conley and his family traveled to his Ohio home to stay prepared after the season was suspended. The Conley’s have a professional quality home gym, including a basketball court where the Jazz guard has been working out.

“Unlike a lot of other players, I was doing a lot two to three weeks after we shut the season down.,” Conley said. “So I’ve been in shape and been staying in the best shape that I can.”

Conley Finding A Better Rhythm

Though players have been restricted to individual workouts in Utah, the Jazz can begin group workouts when they travel to Orlando to finish the season. The team will travel to The Walt Disney World Resorts in the second week of July.

“We’re all spaced out, respectively,” Conley said of the players’ current workouts. “It’s basically individuals getting up and down [the court] trying to create game situations without having players. Which is very tough and impossible to do, but we’re doing our best.”

Despite the long hiatus, Conley is confident in his ability to withstand the physical toll of finishing the NBA season. The veteran guard experienced a slew of injuries during his 11-year career with the Memphis Grizzlies and knows how much time his body needs before he can retake the floor.

“By the time we get to Orlando is when they ramp it up and allow us to start to have more contact. Whether it’s a two on two or three on three going forward. So hopefully it gets to five and five immediately because I know guys are itching to do it.”

Conley suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for 19 games earlier this season. As a result, the veteran has struggled to find traction in a Jazz uniform. With time away from the game, the veteran sees Orlando as a second chance to prove himself.

“I honestly think this is a great opportunity for me,” Conley said. “Having a break in between and just being able to sit back and take a step away and evaluate. See what needs to be done differently, and different ways to get in a better rhythm.”

Off The Court Matters

While Conley is prepared to retake the floor when the season returns, he’s not allowing the game to serve as a distraction from important matters off the floor. The Jazz guard is juggling his basketball obligations, focusing on social justice issues that have swept the nation since late May, while preparing for the birth of his third child during a global pandemic.

With the first round of the playoffs set to begin on August 17 and a due date of August 27, Conley will likely still be in the Orlando bubble when his child is born.

“If I leave to go see my baby boy, I’m gonna be in quarantine on the way back in and possibly have to miss a game,” Conley said.

“But ultimately my wife understands how much this game means and how much being able to participate and play for a championship means. We have an understanding that I’ll be able to see her and I’ll be able to at some point. Hopefully I’ll be able to be back for the baby.”

Regarding the nationwide protests surrounding social injustice, Conley said the movement isn’t far from the players’ minds.

“I think it’s a perfect opportunity for us to continue to put the pedal to the metal on this and not ease up,” Conley said. “When we’re playing the game, I think we do a good job as athletes to refocus and focus on the task at hand. But the times in between that and afterward, I think guys will still be focused on social injustice, systematic, systematic, systematic racism.”

The Jazz reopen the NBA season on July 30 when they face the New Orleans Pelicans in Orlando.

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