UTAH JAZZ

Leaving NBA Playoffs Was Bittersweet For Georges Niang

Sep 23, 2020, 7:37 AM

Georges Niang - Utah Jazz - Indiana Pacers...

Georges Niang #31 of the Utah Jazz celebrates a play during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Vivint Smart Home Arena on January 20, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Leaving the NBA bubble was a bittersweet experience for Georges Niang. The Utah Jazz forward told former Jazzman and current broadcaster Thurl Bailey about his experience in Orlando and how he’s dealt with life after the Jazz playoff run ended in the latest episode of the Thurl Talk podcast.

The Jazz entered the Orlando bubble in early July and were eliminated nearly two months later on September 2. The NBA season was suspended on March 11 after Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, and reopened with the Jazz facing the New Orleans Pelicans on July 30.

During the league’s suspension, NBA players were asked to limit their travel to help the league reopen more quickly. As a result, several players hadn’t returned to their offseason homes from when the season opened last September until earlier this month, nearly 12 months later.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Niang said of returning home. “You get to see your family after really almost a full year of basketball, waiting, training, getting ready to play with the hiatus, and the pandemic. So, I was happy to be home until my mom started telling me that I had to start picking up after myself.”

Niang Watching Playoffs As Motivation

Bailey, who had two stints with the Jazz said he struggled to watch the playoffs after his Jazz teams were eliminated. Niang said he’s using the ongoing playoff series as motivation to improve before next season.

“I can’t lie to you watching the games on TV, I wish I was back there,” Niang said. “And I wish we were you know, competing for a championship.”

Niang said he remembers the pain of watching other teams compete when he’s looking for that added push to improve his game.

“I try to use things as a motivation,” Niang said. “I store it in the back of my mind. Whenever a rep gets hard, two months down the line, I think of that feeling that I have sitting on the couch, and being [frustrated] that we’re not there. And I try to ingrain that in my mind when I’m doing one last sprint or, or one last rep and push myself to be like, you don’t want to be back here. So this is what you need to do to stop yourself from being back and feeling this uncomfortable feeling. I love it.”

Missing Fans Allowed Mitchell, Murray To Go Off

Despite getting eliminated in the first round, Jazz fans were treated to one of the best playoff series in recent memory. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray combined for four 50 point performances with the final game decided on a Mike Conley three-point shot that barely rimmed out.

Niang attributed part of Mitchell and Murray’s brilliance to the lack of distractions from fans in the arenas.

“The bubble situation really exposed me to how valuable fans are with the swaying of energy with being able to distract players and professionals that are in the zone,” Niang said. “And a fan may say something that that throws a player off.”

Neither Mitchell nor Murray had ever crossed the 50 point threshold in a game before each doing it twice in the first-round series.

“That’s the thing I’ve always told people about professionals when they’re in the zone, it’s so tough to break their concentration,” Nian said. “But that’s what fans are there for. Whether it’s the cheering, the yelling, the screaming, the stoppage of play, just their natural energy throws guys off. And as you can see with Donovan and Jamal Murray, those guys were so locked in that weren’t missing. It was like pickups in the summer.”

Niang is signed to a non-guaranteed deal with the Jazz for next season but can negotiate an extension with the team before the season begins. In the meantime, the forward says he’s looking to improve his game on the floor.

“It’s going to be watching a ton of film on the defensive end,” Niang said of his offseason plans. “Thinking of ways that I could help the team in multiple ways. Obviously, my ability to shoot, that’s one thing that I think I can hang my hat on. But then realizing ways that I can get guys involved by either flashing to the hoop or putting the ball on the floor a little bit, but without getting out of my role.”

You can listen to the entire Thurl Talk Podcast is the player below.


  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Dalton Knecht #3 of the Tennessee Volunteers...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Draft Prospect: Tennessee F Dalton Knecht

Tennessee forward Dalton Knecht is projected to be selected in the lottery of the 2024 NBA Draft where the Utah Jazz own a top-ten pick.

2 days ago

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson celebrates an in-season tournament win highlights...

Chandler Holt

Jazz Notes Player Highlights: Utah’s Other Veterans In 2023-24 Season

Although Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton stole the show for Utah, some other Jazz veterans played key roles in the 2023-24 season.

2 days ago

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers...

Ben Anderson

Donovan Mitchell Denies Frustration With Cavaliers Teammates

It's been a rough 24 hours for Donovan Mitchell and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates after being eliminated from the playoffs.

3 days ago

Bronny James Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Draft...

Chandler Holt

Utah Jazz Reportedly Have Interest In Working Out, Drafting Bronny James

According to Yahoo Sports, the Utah Jazz have expressed interest in working out Bronny James and selecting him in the 2024 NBA Draft.

3 days ago

Ron Holland #0 of G League Ignite...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Which Wing Fits Jazz Best In Draft?

Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

5 days ago

Dalton Knecht #3 of the Tennessee Volunteers...

Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz 2024 NBA Mock Draft Round-Up: Post Lottery

The NBA Draft is just over six weeks away and with the lottery in the rearview mirror, it's officially mock draft season for the Utah Jazz.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Leaving NBA Playoffs Was Bittersweet For Georges Niang