Cleveland, Ohio • For Trey Burke, Friday was a return to the spot where he got his first taste of the NBA.
As a young boy, Burke, a native of Columbus, Ohio, watched his first game at what was then called Gund Arena, rooting on Shawn Kemp and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"That was my very first NBA memory," said Burke. "It was like a dream come true for me at the time. Now I’m back here playing. It’s surreal."
As homecomings go, Burke did not receive the cheers from the crowd he received earlier this season in Detroit, just an hour’s drive from Ann Arbor, Mich., where he played collegiately last year. Cleveland is at least a two-hour drive from Burke’s hometown of Columbus.
Still, Burke had about 30 friends and family — including his parents — in the stands at Quicken Loans Arena.
Unfortunately for the rookie point guard, those supporters witnessed an off night. Burke finished with just four points on 2-of-9 shooting to go along with three assists and five rebounds.
"It was great to see them come and support me the way they’ve always supported me," he said. "They’ve seen me have subpar, bad games before. It doesn’t concern me too much."
On the season, Burke is averaging 12.5 points and 5.4 assists a game.
"I don’t think I’m as comfortable as I can be, but I’m learning more and more every game," he said before Friday’s game. "My feel for the game is getting better. My balance, my shot selection. I think for now it’s just about learning, continuing to grow as a player. I know I don’t know everything at this level as of now, so I’m just going to continue to soak in everything my coaches tell me."
Burke added, "I want to be an All-Star some day. I want to be a guy that can lead this franchise. A guy that fans, the coaching staff and my team can trust to make plays out there on the court and play hard every single night."
On the road
The cold air blowing off Lake Erie on Friday morning was just one more harsh reminder of the difficult task ahead. Friday’s game against the Cavaliers was the first the Jazz will play in six cities over nine days, traveling a total of 4,895 miles. It’s the longest trip since Christmas 2003, when the Jazz ere gone from Dec. 14-22.
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