Derrick Favors gotta be getting up there, age-wise, right? After all, he’s been in the league forever, and there’s plenty of nights where he looks like he’s slowing down a bit and losing some of his athleticism.
Fav is 29.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Which is perhaps of even more concern to Utah Jazz fans who worry that the big man has maybe lost a step. Him recently missing a couple games due to right knee soreness probably only exacerbated those fears.
So, after Fav returned for Monday’s game against the Lakers … we asked him how he was doing.
And him being the low-key guy that he is, he answered. The short version: While his body is certainly feeling the cumulative effects of playing more than a decade of professional basketball, there’s nothing inherently physically wrong. And while the short stints he’s playing this season do help keep him fresh, they also make it harder for him to get loosened up.
“Some days I feel great, other days the body hurts. You know, 11 years in the league, and with this compressed season, playing all these games so close together, sometimes your body just aches and sometimes your body don’t want to wake up and act right,” Favors said. “So you got to do little things to get the body loose and get my body going. It looks like [I’m laboring] sometimes because I don’t play big minutes. So I might come in the game still a little stiff and probably play maybe two or three minutes and come right back out, versus coming in the game and playing an eight-minute stretch where I can get loose and really get going. So it’s a battle, but I’m making the best of it, and my body’s holding up right now.”
Asked about the knee specifically, Fav said it was a better-safe-than-sorry kind of situation.
“The knee is fine. With the compressed season, and all the traveling, all the games, sometimes the knee gets sore. So it was more of just a precautionary thing,” he said. “I mean, it wasn’t nothing serious — nothing serious. Just one of those things where the knee gets sore and they don’t want it to — I don’t want it to — turn into something serious. So just sit out the game[s].”
When my coverage partner Andy Larsen followed up by noting that he’s occasionally observed Derrick putting a heating pad on his back, the big man laughed before replying: “You pay attention to everything!
“Nah, it’s good, it’s good. It’s just something I do on the sideline — I don’t want my back to get stiff, or my whole body to get stiff, so I try to stay loose until it’s time for me to go in the game, because I don’t want to go into the game being stiff or not warmed up,” Fav elaborated. “So I just try to do little things to keep my body warm and keep my body loose and flexible before I go in the game.”
When Andy concluded with some well-wishes — “We just want you feeling good.” — Fav laughed again.
“I appreciate that, man! Thank you!”
A short look at Mike Conley’s short film
Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Rockets, Jazz coach Quin Snyder mentioned that the team had made plans to collectively watch the Oscar-nominated short film, “Two Distant Strangers,” that Mike Conley is an executive producer of once they arrived at their hotel in Houston.
While on their flight there, the Derek Chauvin verdict came out.
Given that the team was set to watch a film about a Black man being murdered by a white cop, just hours after a white cop (Chauvin) was found guilty of murdering a Black man (George Floyd), Quin called the confluence of events “serendipitous.”
“The movie itself was certainly impactful, it was tremendous, and in many respects, it was haunting,” he said. “… And I would encourage everybody to see it.”
So I did.
And I realized why Quin used the word “impactful” three or four times in describing it.
The premise is a “Groundhog Day” meets race relations mash-up, in which a young Black man gets killed by a white cop, only to keep waking up in the same circumstances, and trying to figure out how to break the loop and not wind up dead. The point of the film, Conley told Slam Magazine, is to get those who immediately wonder “what the individual might have done wrong in those situations to give the police a reason to shoot,” anytime they hear about a such an incident, and to get them to realize that sometimes the answer is “nothing.”
Tribune film critic Sean Means says that “Two Distant Strangers” is not merely the favorite to take home the Academy Award for “Best Short Film,” but would be a deserving winner as well, noting that it “sticks in the memory.”
The film is on Netflix, and the run time is 32 minutes. (It is rated TV-MA, and contains foul language, violence, and some suggestive situations, just FYI.)
• Joe Ingles is clearly a big fan of Zoom interviews. Following the Rockets game, he made his way to the interview room, sat down in front of the camera, and before the Jazz PR staffer acting as moderator could get the proceedings going, he asked her to hold up for a minute: “I’m trying to figure out how to change my background so I can have something cool.”
• Mike has six games this season of 10 or more assists. Four of them have come in his past four games played, as he had 14 against the Thunder, 10 vs. the Pacers, 10 against the Lakers and 13 in Houston. Given that he’s averaging 5.9 apg this season and 5.7 for his career, what’s with the sudden Stocktonesque streak? “I’ve never really been a part of a team like this in my career. This is a unique situation — guys are shooting the ball so well, there’s a lot of space with Rudy setting screens and rolling. I’ve got a lot of options,” Mike said. “And I think it’s different, obviously, with Donovan out — I just have the ball a little bit more, so I’m able to just kind of dissect and play the game and, you know, be the man I know I can be.”
• Quin was asked about Jordan Clarkson and Joe being the two leaders in the Sixth Man of the Year race and how they complemented one another. After extolling their divergent virtues, he closed with an ‘Oh snap!’ one-liner: “I hope they’re both competing with each other for Defensive Player of the Year — [though] I don’t know if Rudy would accept that.”
• One more from Joe: When teasingly told post-Rockets game how it was that Mike was a +46 in the contest, and Rudy Gobert a +44, but himself a mere +15, then asked if this was proof that plus/minus is a meaningless stat, the Aussie gave a colorful answer, even dragging my stat-geek cohort Andy into it: “I think they play harder when [I’m sitting out]. They told me that they try and get their plus/minus up when I’m out so I look bad, which is incredibly selfish of our guys. … I don’t know if anyone looks at that. Is it real? Do people really take that [seriously]? You guys know more than I do. Someone’s probably written an article on it — I know Andy’s written some silly article on bloody plus/minus or something. I couldn’t care less. If we win the game and I’m minus-[bleeping] — Oops! Don’t put that in! — minus-whatever … as long as we win, I’m cool.”
And finally, the Top 5 list
A week or two ago, some other NBA writer from some other NBA market randomly decided to tweet out a “Top 5 Songs by Guns N’ Roses” list, prompting others to do the same. Given that his list included “My Michelle,” which is not even a top-5 track on the album “Appetite for Destruction,” I could not let this stand. And given that I was compelled to eviscerate his list, I thus am also compelled to present my own — not for critique, mind you, but for edification, as it is perfect.
And so, The Top 5 Songs by Guns N’ Roses:
1. Sweet Child O’ Mine. Not merely my favorite GNR song, but the best song. Period. By any pop/rock artist. Ever. Just listen to that intro. “Where do we go now?”
2. November Rain. Of course the video is ridiculous and nonsensical. So what? The song is sweeping, grandiose, orchestral, bombastic, over-the-top, epic, and alternately sweetly pretty and furiously intense. That closing segment gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
3. Patience. The haunting, acoustic ballad from the “ GN’R Lies” EP is Axl Rose at his most vulnerable, and proof that the band had the musical goods even with all the peripheral stuff stripped away.
4. Don’t Cry. The original version, not the alternate one. A great mix of acoustic and electric, the solo from Slash is just absolutely blistering. And those backing vocals from the late Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon fame lent a slightly eerie-yet-lush quality to the track.
5. Nightrain. A controversial choice, to be sure, in that it leads to the exclusion of some classics and fan favorites alike. But it’s a nice counterpoint to some of the previous choices, in that there’s just something about its aggressive, catchy, energetic, riffy simplicity that fires me up every time. Also, it’s an ode to “Night Train” wine, which, according to band lore, was the best combination of cheap and potent they could afford back in their nascent days.