Regardless of its impact on the rest of the NBA season, Al Jefferson expressed sadness at the gruesome injury Kobe Bryant suffered in the Lakers 118-116 win over Golden State on Friday that kept Los Angeles 1 game ahead of the Jazz for eighth place.
"At the end of the day," Jefferson said, "we're all a big NBA family. It sucks to see one of the best players go down with that kind of injury. But if it's going to happen to anybody I'm glad it's Kobe, because he has that will power and that mindset to recover from it. But it still sucks to see him go down especially with everything they've been fighting for."
The Lakers play San Antonio tonight, while the Jazz are off until Monday when they are at Minnesota. Utah finishes the season at Memphis. While the Lakers are certainly more vulnerable without Bryant, Jefferson said the Jazz can't think they have an advantage now.
"At the end of the day, regardless of what's going on," he said, "we just got to take care of what we can take care of. I don't look at it from the Lakers point of view, because for all we know this could motivate them just like Louisville. Their guy [Kevin Ware] got hurt, they got motivated and went and won the national championship."
The Jazz practiced Sunday before flying to Minneapolis, it was the first time the media spoke to the team since Bryant's injury.
"I saw it when it happened," Randy Foye said. "Just tough. You never want to see anyone get injured. I know we're in a battle with those guys, but he's such a competitor, he's an unbelievable player, works so hard. You can take a lot from someone like that, but you never want to see someone get hurt, let alone an Achilles injury. You don't want to see anyone have a sprained ankle. That's just tough."
Coach Tyrone Corbin called the injury "tough" and "unfortunate" but said the Jazz can't get distracted by it.
"You still have to win games," he said, "and you look at the guys on that roster - [Dwight] Howard and Pau [Gasol] and [Steve] Nash and the other veteran guys - they are capable of stepping up. So we have to win games. That's the only thing we've talked about in the past: handling our own business and controlling our own destiny."
— Bill Oram