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Utah Jazz: Earl Watson pours his heart back into basketball
Jazz » Watson reaches out to young players from his hometown.


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Some athletes went overseas during the work stoppage; others devoted themselves to endless workouts. Watson connected with the 76ers like never before. Kansas City won three championships last summer, including the Fab 48 in Las Vegas, and Watson barked commands from the sideline as an assistant.

In June, Watson flew the 76ers to his second home of Los Angeles. He put the kids in hotels, let them empty his personal closets of Jazz gear, and paid for everything — flights, meals, trips to Disneyland and Six Flags. The teacher’s hidden agendas: building culture, teaching teamwork, reminding Kansas City’s youths that life can be so much more.

At a glance

Earl Watson file

Position » Point guard | Year » 11 | Age » 32 Vitals » 6-foot-1, 199 pounds

2012 stats » 3.0 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 steals

Career » 6.8 points, 4.5 assists, 2.3 steals

Draft » 2001, second round by Seattle | College » UCLA

Born » Kansas City, Kan.

Earl Watson on Kansas City » “What I want to do back home is change the culture. I want to get kids to stop saying, ‘I’m from Crimedotte’ or ‘I’m from Killa City.’ Because I really believe you speak words into existence. If you’re a little kid on the playground and everybody refers to your city as Crimedotte, you buy into it and you become it.”

Jazz at Spurs

At AT&T Center (San Antonio)

Tipoff » Sunday, 5 p.m.

TV » ROOT Sports

Radio » 1320 AM, 1600 AM, 98.7 FM

Records » Jazz 29-27, Spurs 39-14

Last meeting » Spurs, 106-102 (Feb. 20)

About the Jazz » Utah hosts San Antonio on Monday. The two-game run is the Jazz’s only away-home back-to-back during the lockout-shortened season. … Paul Millsap’s averaging 19.6 points on 56.1 percent shooting and 8 rebounds during his past five games.

About the Spurs » San Antonio has won 10 consecutive games and 13 of 14. The Spurs’ last loss was March 17 at Dallas. … San Antonio ranks first out of 30 teams in average 3-point percentage (38.9), third in scoring (102.1), fifth in assists (22.8) and 10th in rebounds (42.7).

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"A lot of these kids don’t have a male telling them that they love ’em," Watson said. "We use the word ‘love’ a lot in our organization."

The love was returned in a Facebook message.

When an unsolicited email from Randle recently popped up in Watson’s inbox, Crimedotte took a major hit. The future Loyola Marymount grad opened up to his guide. Watson had inspired him. Shown him dreams can be real and kids from Kansas City can make their hometown proud.

For a brief moment, Watson’s work was done.

"It’s like a friendship. It’s like a brotherhood. … Being involved with them is priceless — for me and for them," Watson said.

bsmith@sltrib.com

Twitter: @tribjazz




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