Utah Jazz: In homecoming, Williams and Jefferson host National Guard
New Orleans • Mo Williams wears a camouflage backpack with his name stitched on it. Standard issue.
His brother graduated from West Point and served more than six years in the Army. His father served also.
"I have a soft spot in my heart for the Army," Williams said.
Williams and Al Jefferson hosted more than 40 members of the Mississippi National Guard at New Orleans Arena on Friday night.
The National Guard has been a sponsor of the camp Williams and Jefferson run each summer in Jackson, Miss., for more than a year, Williams said.
"It will be great for them," he said following Friday's pregame shootaround. "The biggest thing for them is to come in to see a professional game, get out of the grind and grit of their normal day and enjoy themselves."
Williams was born three hours from New Orleans in Jackson, while Jefferson grew up in Prentiss, Miss.
Jefferson said he had about 18 friends and family in the stands Friday, down from his usual contingent of 40. Others will visit him in San Antonio on Saturday and Monday in Memphis.
"I just kind of spread it out a little bit," Jefferson said.
With the Jazz down a few of their usual fans in New Orleans, would the National Guard contingent be expected to pick up the slack and cheer for the Jazz?
"Absolutely," Williams said. "That was in the contract."
Earlier this week, Kevin O'Connor said even saying "San Antonio" felt dirty.
"I hate even mentioning that word after last year," the Jazz executive said.
After the Spurs swept the Jazz in the first round of last year's playoffs, it's probably safe to say that general manager Dennis Lindsey is the only member of the Jazz's traveling contingent with positive feelings about San Antonio.
Saturday's game will mark Lindsey's return to the Alamo City since the Jazz hired the former Spurs assistant general manager. Lindsey said he was grateful to the Spurs organization for the five years he spent there and putting him and his family in the position to move up.
"I can't say thank you enough to those guys," Lindsey said. "And I have to make sure my house didn't burn down."
Lindsey won't be staying in his old house, however.
"There's no furniture," he said.
The home is for sale, and Lindsey turned his memories of it into a sales pitch Friday: good schools, nice neighborhood, big yard.
"If you know anybody who wants a nice house ..."