There isn't a more thoughtful player on the Utah Jazz roster than backup point guard Earl Watson.
And by thoughtful, I don't mean he's the type to send a nice thank-you note (although I wouldn't be surprised to learn he does that sort of thing).
No, when I mention he's thoughtful, I mean he thinks.
In a world where so many professional athletes answer questions with a series of calculated, contrived and mind-numbingly boring cliches -- often without listening to the question in the first place -- Watson stands apart.
Mind you, he isn't alone. There are a few others on the team who, thankfully, follow the listen/think/respond protocol, but Watson has been doing it longer than anyone else.
That's why I like to refer to him as a point guard/philosopher.
And that's why last week, when I saw video of Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice behaving like a lunatic, physically and verbally abusing his players, I knew I had to ask Watson about it.
See, not only is he a profound and considerate thinker, he's also a future coach.
At age 33, Watson is nearing the end of his playing career. But for a while now he has been upfront about his desire to get into coaching and, personally, I think any college or professional team would benefit from having him on the bench.
Watson grew up in Kansas City, but played college ball at UCLA, where he got to know the great John Wooden. During his NBA career, he became close with Hubie Brown and Jerry West.
He later came to Utah to play for, and learn from, Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan.
So, go ahead and mark these words: Earl Watson will coach in the NBA someday ... or he'll win an NCAA title.
On Friday, I stopped him before he left EnergySolutions Arena and asked if he'd seen the video of Rice abusing his players. He had, of course, he also had an opinion.
He didn't lambaste Rice, who was fired after the practice video was released. Instead, he offered his own opinion on what a coach should be, how he -- or she -- should act and what they should teach.
"First off, you're a teacher, you're a teacher about life, you're a teacher about the sport," he said. "You're a teacher about how to become a man, you're a teacher about how to deal with adversity. You're an example that these guys are going to carry for the rest of their lives."
Watson correctly noted that, in basketball specifically, a high percentage of athletes come from broken families. Consequentially, a number of young men playing the game haven't had positive male role models in their lives.
"The coach is beyond just being a coach, he's like a father figure," Watson explained. "So, to teach these young dudes to how NOT to deal with adversity and how NOT to overcome obstacles through positive (means) is not the example you want to send off."
When ESPN obtained and broadcast practice video of Rice screaming obscenities and homophobic slurs at his players; putting his hands on them, kicking them and throwing basketballs at them, school officials fired him.
Sadly, they were already aware of his actions, but some how didn't fire him until after video of his abuse went public.
In the wake the scandal, some of Rice's players stood up for their coach and even excused his behavior, insisting his intention wasn't to be abusive, his actions were misunderstood.
But as Watson pointed out, coaches -- especially at the youth, high school and even the college level -- are always teaching, even when they're not coaching.
Personally, I tend to agree.
"This is important, winning and losing these games," he said. "But most important, is that we learn how to become men beyond basketball, that we become men and fathers of high respect and high character and that we continue to grow."
Thought-provoking words from a thoughtful man.