Orlando, Fla. — If Jazz forward Jeremy Evans could be a comic-book superhero and wasn't allowed to be Batman, he be a "space guy."
Utah forward Derrick Favors didn't have cable when he was growing up, so he knew little about Hall of Fame forward Charles Barkley and mainly just followed the Atlanta Hawks. Just The Human Highlight Reel? Nope. "All of them," Favors said.
Jazz forward Gordon Hayward might aid Evans in the dunk contest, but G-Man's keeping The Human Pogo Stick's plans under lock and key until Saturday night rolls around.
The above and much, much more was revealed Friday morning as the three young Jazzmen made the rounds during NBA All-Star media interviews at the Orange County Convention Center and a downtown hotel.
Here are the highlights:
Deron Williams on Evans, his former teammate, being in the dunk contest: He should've been in the dunk contest last year. … Aw. Man, I don't know if I've seen anybody jump as high as him. I think with him, it's just going to be, see what he can come up with — what kind of dunks he can come up with and if he can make 'em. He's my favorite right now. I'm pulling for him. If he needs someone to come out and throw some lobs, I got him, because I know Earl [Watson] can't be here. I'm really happy for him. He's a great kid and a great athlete.
Hayward on his late Thursday practice session with Evans at Amway Center: I can just say it's cool to be in that arena kind of all by yourself. We were able to practice and he's got some [dunks] that are real nice. He could win it. He could win it, easily.
Evans hinting he can touch the top of the backboard: Jeremy Evans can go to the moon. You never know what he can do.
Involved with Evans' dunks or just watching from the sideline: Um … we'll see. You guys'll just have to wait and see. You'll see.
Evans is becoming increasingly media savvy. He spoke with the press for 30 minutes, sitting on an elevated platform and answering questions about everything from The Dunk That Never Happened to his favorite basketball-based video games. Denmark TV showed up. A child Sports Illustrated reporter fired away. A smiling, easygoing Evans said the only thing Friday's queries compared to was when Western Kentucky advanced to the Sweet 16 during his sophomore season in 2008.
Evans thinks his vertical jump is about 46 inches "with a step." He can't touch the backboard, but he's only about 12 inches away.
Evans was asked about his Twitter handle several times. For those who aren't following: @JeremyEvans40
Evans isn't a huge fan of using props in the dunk contest but understands their importance, especially considering fan-voting will determine the 2012 champion.
Media members continually filtered in and out of Evans' interview, with some only asking one question before moving on to the next player. After being asked several times by a reporter what his specific dunk plans were, Evans pulled gave a witty nod to Terrell Owens, quickly saying, "Next question." He later acknowledged he'll have a "couple guys" helping him.
Evans realized his jumping ability was special in high school and college. However, it wasn't until he got to the NBA that his hops actually hit him. Once Evans started going through predraft workouts and then played against the best players in the world, he realized he might be a little different than the other kids.
Evans said he's never publicly attempted the dunks he'll use during the contest. "I feel like we've got a couple locked in but there's still ideas. Just talked to Dwight [Howard]. He had a couple of ideas for me, so maybe we might tweak some things."
Evans didn't back down from a question about his expiring contract with the Jazz. He's aware he's in the last year of his deal and has already thought about the issues surrounding it. He pointed out its only halfway through the season, though, and he thinks his playing time will increase after the All-Star break.
Asked what makes him different than the other three players in the dunk contest, Evans joked he's skinny.
Evans sounded like a team captain talking about what's troubled the Jazz lately. He said the team needs to stick together and become closer, especially after losses. He emphasized "sticking together," adding Utah's players need to hold each other accountable after a defeat.
Evans was asked a series of questions about the best rookie and point guard in the NBA, as well as the MVP. He drew blanks on the latter two, pointing out it's too early to pick a most valuable player. Favorite rookie: Ricky Rubio.
Evans acknowledged there are "no stars" in this year's dunk contest and didn't back away from the suggestion.
His favorite all-time dunker: Michael Jordan.
Evans didn't grow up obsessed with dunking. In fact, he rarely watched dunk contests. In college, he started watching highlights via YouTube of past dunk contests, focusing on Jordan's leaps. Since becoming a last-minute addition to the 2012 competition, he's been obsessively watching dunks on YouTube, trying to absorb as much rim-shaking as possible.
Evans said the initial promotion video of his leaps the Jazz used wasn't very good. He was tired after practice, since Jeff Hornacek had once again pushed him to the limit.
Evans thinks the highest he can jump is 12-feet, 3 inches. Maybe 12-4. "I guess I can tell this because it isn't happening: The other night, I tried to get 13 [feet] but it didn't happen."
Video games Evans played growing up: NBA Live on Super Nintendo 64 and "The Marios." He added: "I'm no good at Call of Duty."
Evans' mother, brother, grandfather, uncle and many other family members are flying to Orlando to watch him defy gravity. He's also had numerous friends and people he grew up with text him, saying they knew he'd always be dunking live on primetime national TV. "Sure," Evans said.
Evans' first dunk: eighth grade with a volleyball "or something."
Evans hoped defending champion Blake Griffin would make a second appearance this year so he could dethrone Mr. Kia.
Best dunker in the NBA? "Besides myself? Blake Griffin."
Worst dunker on the Jazz? Jamaal Tinsley, Evans joked. "He's shorter and I've only seen him dunk it once."
If Evans had to pull a Jeremy Lin and crash on a teammate's sofa, it'd be Hayward's.
Favorite musical artist: Usher. "Slow jams."
Will Evans be nervous, like Al Jefferson's joked he will? No way. Evans has long dreamed of this. Opportunity has suddenly arrived. "Come [Saturday] night, lights, camera, action, I feel like I'll know where I'm at. That's what I do."
What if Evans captures the crown? "Aw, man. It'd be amazing. Just to win it — a dream come true. And everybody at home, they always say, 'I knew you had a chance.' And just to be able to do it."
Radio: Scheduled to appear on 97.5 FM/1280 AM The Zone at 4:40 p.m. MT to talk about the Jazz and NBA All-Star weekend.
Brian T. Smith
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