Jazz youngsters taking first steps

Oct 5 2013 - 11:15pm


SALT LAKE CITY -- From what we know of Enes Kanter, shyness is not usually an issue.

The 6-foot-11 Utah Jazz center likes to put on a show whether it's throwing down a rim-shaking dunk during the game or donning an outlandish hat and a brightly colored velour jacket afterward.

The guy has never complained about a little extra attention.

Weirdly though, he was overcome with a case of stage fright before the Jazz's open scrimmage Saturday afternoon at EnergySolutions Arena.

Given the chance to dance in front of the crowd of 7,000-plus, Kanter went red in the face as fans cheered for him to participate in a dance contest normally reserved for rookies.

Teammate Gordon Hayward, the team's new leader, took charge of the silly contest, telling the rookies when and where to show off their moves.

For the record, new point guard Trey Burke won the competition. But when Hayward looked down the row of players and saw Kanter sitting there, he broke protocol and invited the third-year Jazzman to participate.

The crowd voiced its approval and Hayward urged him to throw caution to the wind. But Kanter refused to canter, or waltz or rumba or whatever it is 21-year-olds do these days.

"Oh man, I wasn't ready, I didn't get any moves," Kanter said. "They told me to dance and I was just, 'You know what, I've got no moves.' If they would have told me earlier, I would have thought about it."

Hayward admitted he was a little surprised by Kanter's refusal.

"I was (disappointed), I told him he missed the opportunity to be a fan favorite forever," he said.

The dance contest may well have been the highlight of Saturday's festivities. With very little veteran experience and no superstar players on the roster the 2013-14 version of the Jazz won't make anyone forget about the 1996 Bulls, the 1972 Lakers or the 1986 Celtics.

Saturday's scrimmage, while exciting for the enthusiastic fans in attendance, was at times sloppy and harried. But that sort of thing seems befitting of such a young team whose most tenured players are just beginning their fourth seasons in the league.

What's more, it was coming at the end of a long week of two-a-days and the gradual implementation of the team's offense.

The Jazz still have a lot to work on before Tuesday's preseason opener against Golden State. And they've got even farther to go before they open the regular season Oct. 30 vs. Oklahoma City.

Asked about his thoughts from the scrimmage, coach Tyrone Corbin first praised the fans for turning out and supporting the team. And speaking of the team, he took a somewhat politically correct approach about how it played.

"I thought they came out and tried to play and do the things we wanted them to do by executing the offense," he said.

Hayward said the long week of practice had an effect on the scrimmage.

"I thought it was (a good week), we all worked pretty hard," he said. "That's why the scrimmage is a little sloppy, just because guys are tired and their legs are pretty far gone. But I thought it was a solid week, for sure. We're still learning each other, still growing."

There were bright spots, particularly the play of Kanter, who scored 15 points for his team.

Imagine how much better he would have been had he danced a little before the scrimmage.

Contact reporter Jim Burton at 801-625-4265, jburton@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter @jmb247.


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