The pro-Lakers response was the only time Favors fell out of Tabiona’s favor.
To the children already wrapped up in the Junior Jazz program — many wore jerseys with numbers such as 24, 25 and 40, displaying affection for some of Utah’s biggest names — Favors’ appearance had a once-in-a-lifetime feel. Young Jazz players have shown up in basketball-proud Tabiona before. But it’s been a while since anyone with Favors’ stature ducked through a hallway.
For Mike Wagner, Favors’ performance was even better than imagined. Wagner said he’d been promoting the Jazz forward’s showing for weeks. A Tabiona Public School sign highlighted the event, saying the Junior Jazz proudly welcome "Derrick Favors!" in flashing golden lights. But watching Favors up close, as he laughed and joked and toyed with a small but adoring crowd, was summer perfection.
"This brings a lot of excitement, a lot of buzz," said Wagner, bishop of the Tabiona LDS church and a history teacher at the school. "This is a basketball town. When we offer sports in the high school, basketball rules the roost."
Favors ruled Tabiona on Monday.
"I really wanted [all] this my first year. How my first year went, it was kind of crazy," Favors said. "So now I’m just starting to get out, starting to prove myself as a player … just starting to have fun."
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