Jazz Mudiay, Conley Find Normalcy Returning To Court
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – NBA players are notoriously creatures of habit. Players have strict pre-game and post-game routines. They practice specific shot motions thousands of times to find consistency. They often listen to the same music, eat the same food, and attempt to nap at the same time on game day. So how do players, including those from the Utah Jazz, find normalcy at the Disney campus that is unlike any NBA set up in league history?
For Jazz guard Emmanuel Mudiay, that normalcy is found on the floor. Even if he isn’t finding it anywhere else.
“Bein on the floor is normal after that it’s when everything is non-normal,” Mudiay said. “When we’re out here, we’re competing, we’re going hard. So that’s always been the normal setting.”
During a normal season, the Jazz tend to practice during the mid-morning and can leave practice by mid-day. With 22 teams inside of the Disney camps, practice times are varied. Now, the Jazz find themselves practicing primarily in the evening, with most of the day spent trying to fill their free time.
The NBA has provided players with ping pong tables, cornhole, and the opportunity to golf or go fishing. Several NBA players brought elaborate video game setups to pass the time.
However, Mudiay has taken a more simplistic approach.
“I just sleep, or I go watch movies or just basically chill,” Mudiay said of the long Orlando days. “There’s nothing you really can do. Chill until your practice time comes. Get on the phone, talk to family, talk to friends, that’s about it.”
Conley Finding Comfort in Now Familiar Role
Mike Conley is getting a second chance to find his footing with the Jazz. The guard struggled early in the season to find his shot, then suffered through hamstring injuries through December and January.
Now in Orlando, Conley is looking at the resumption as an opportunity to show his value.
“It feels like I’ve played a full season under coach and with the guys I’ve got a chance to build chemistry with,” Conley said. “So coming into the bubble, I had no questions about lingo, language, plays, my role, anything.”
Conley truly seemed to find his groove with the team over the Jazz last seven games before the hiatus. Finally fully health, the veteran guard averaged 16.1 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.3 rebounds. More impressively, Conley shot .459 from the floor, and .458 from the three-point line during the stretch.
With Bojan Bogdanovic out for the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery, the Jazz will need more of that production from Conley.
“I came with a clear vision on what to expect and what I’m supposed to be for this team,” Conley said of the season’s return. “I’m really just excited right now. I’m really excited to go out and just play — play with a clear mind and tell people what I can do.”
I Am A Man
Conley will wear the phrase “I Am A Man” on the back of his jersey when the season resumes.
The phrase is one of 28 sayings players can wear on their jerseys during the remainder of the season at The Walt Disney World Resorts. The NBA is allowing players to display the messaging on their jerseys in place of their name to continue the conversation surrounding social injustice.
“Where that all came from was actually in Memphis,” Conely said. “When sanitation workers went on strike. And I actually got to visit the civil rights museum a few times down there so it meant a lot to me to be able to put that on the back of my jersey.”
Conley consulted with his family on which phrase he should choose. In 1968, Memphis sanitation workers went on strike after two workers were killed on duty. The strike resulted in higher wages and the formation of the sanitation workers union.
The Jazz reopen the NBA season on July 30 when they take on the New Orleans Pelicans.
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