When the Utah Jazz showed up for Saturday morning’s shootaround, they found green uniforms awaiting them for later that night, as well as green sneakers.
Most slipped into the new shoes. But not Marvin Williams.
“They weren’t the ones that I normally wear,” the Jazz forward said. “And I don’t like wearing new shoes anyway. … I’ll probably come out in the same ones that I normally wear.”
Williams is particular about his shoes, and it’s not just a certain model of sneaker that he prefers. It’s one well-worn pair of LeBron James-endorsed, size-16 Nikes. Unlike most NBA players, who change their shoes every few games, the first-year Jazz forward said he has worn the same sneakers for months and will likely finish out the season with this pair.
“I don’t like putting on new shoes because it makes my feet hurt,” Williams said.
That makes the former Atlanta Hawk unique. Mo Williams, for example, says he “can’t go probably two or three games” without changing shoes. Marvin Williams said he has played with guys who “changed them every few games. I’ve had guys change them at halftime. So it just depends on how you feel.”
While Williams may not have many contemporaries who remain as committed to one pair of sneakers as he does, he doesn’t even come close to former Atlanta teammate Jamal Crawford. Crawford, who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers, would wear the same pair of shoes for an entire season, Williams said.
“This no joke,” he said, “the laces were ripping. Playoffs came, this is the first time we went to the playoffs. He tried to put on a new pair of shoes, changed them at halftime.”
Gordon Hayward started for the first time since Nov. 16; coach Tyrone Corbin inserted him into the first group in place of DeMarre Carroll. Corbin said he made the move “because of the results we’ve been getting of late.”
Entering Saturday, the Jazz had lost eight of their last 10 games.
In 45 games coming off the bench, Hayward averaged 14.3 points per game. He averaged 13.3 points as a starter.
“That’s a lot of games,” Hayward said of his tenure as a sixth man. “But you just got to be ready whenever you go in there. We’ve played with a bunch of different lineups over the course of the season.”
Prince of a play
In three seasons with the Jazz, Hayward’s signature play has, perhaps, become the chase-down block when the opposing team is on the fast break.
On Saturday, he made his first career start against the player with perhaps the most famous example of the play.
In the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals, Tayshaun Prince, then with the Detroit Pistons, chased down Reggie Miller on a fast break to preserve Detroit’s Game 2 win over Indiana.
You can just imagine how Hayward, growing up in Brownsburg, Ind., reacted.
“I remember watching that play and was pretty upset about that,” he said. “I wanted Reggie to dunk it. It was a tremendous play by him.”
Hayward ranks fifth on the Jazz with 0.53 blocks per game, the most among non-frontcourt players.