Monson: Utah Jazz’s regular Joe Ingles is anything but ordinary

First Published      Last Updated Sep 28 2015 10:12 pm

Australian Ingles plays important role in Jazz’s season of resurgence.

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To that point, Ingles never thought about playing in the NBA. "I never watched it — ever," he says. He wanted to play for the Boomers — the national team — and the prospect of coming to America sank into his consciousness some three years later, but even then, it was on the back burner.

Instead, he went to play for Granada, of the Spanish League, then Barcelona. The latter was an up-and-down experience, one that saw him receive only limited minutes. He had a good enough ride in Europe to want to go on competing for a Euroleague title, despite the fact that, by that time, the Memphis Grizzlies had seen sufficient positive play, especially during the 2012 Olympics, to offer him a guaranteed contract.

Ingles turned it down to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, whose coach, David Blatt, now the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, convinced him to sign there. He did, and together they won the Euroleague championship last season.

"The environment in those Euroleague games is something different," he says. "We played in Greece once, and a fan threw a beer at the coach while he was drawing up a play. It landed right in his lap. I saw a player get his head split open when someone threw a lighter at him. It was crazy. Unless you play there, you can't understand it."

Having won a title, Ingles understood it enough to "want a crack" at the NBA.

The Clippers were interested — and signed him to a nonguaranteed contract before the start of the season. He was cut. Within 48 hours, the Jazz were on the line, inviting him to Salt Lake.

He came, not knowing what the experience would be like and … "Well," he says, "I'm still here."

It's as though the Jazz brought Ingles in to help Exum, and then they discovered he could help them in other ways. He's finishing a one-year deal and will be a free agent this offseason. Dennis Lindsey recently was complimentary of Ingles, saying: "He's exceeded our expectations as a teammate and a competitor. He's an NBA player. He's proved that this year. Hopefully, his experience has been good enough that he'll consider us when the time comes."

Says Ingles: "Being here has been one of the best experiences I've had in basketball. It's been great. The guys are unselfish and fun and I've had a great time. I love Utah and I'd like to come back. I feel like I've found the enjoyment of playing the game again here. Last year, at Maccabi Tel Aviv, was good. This has taken it to another level. I'd love to …"

"Heeeyyy, are you still talking over there? Geeeeeeeezzzz."

The voice from the far-off corner booms again.

Snyder re-enters the gym and spews all kinds of abuse as he walks across the floor toward his player and a guest holding a recorder.

"I can barely stand to be around Joe for a few minutes during practice. How are you holding up?" he asks.

Then, Snyder gets serious, talking about the contributions Ingles has made to a surprisingly productive Jazz year:

"We have diverse guys on this team. But Joe's helped us be and stay connected. I've been hard on him, at times. But he's been a bridge, someone I can rely on, even though this is his first year, to keep it together, to keep everyone focused. There's trust there and it's appreciated."

Somebody, quick, dial up Mrs. O'Reilly now. The regular Joe has become a pro's pro.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.

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By the numbers

Games » 78

Min » 21.2

Pts » 5.1

Reb » 2.2

Ast » 2.3

FG% » 42.2

FT% » 75.0

3% » 36.2

INSIDE » A closer look at Ingles. > D3

About Joe Ingles

From » Adelaide, Australia.

Age » 27

Vitals: 6-foot-8, 216 pounds.

School » Australian Institute of Sport.

Pro team » Melbourne South Dragons (Australian League), Granada and Barcelona (Spanish League), Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israeli League), Utah Jazz.

Offseason status » Free agent.

Personal status » Engaged to Renae Hallinan.