How ’Bout This Jazz newsletter: Bad nicknames, video game trash-talking, and fuchsia tracksuits

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) as the Utah Jazz host the New Orleans Pelicans, NBA basketball in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.

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Welcome to The Tribune’s new Utah Jazz newsletter, which has been re-christened “How ’Bout This Jazz” to match the re-christened podcast.

Everybody is rebranding, I guess.

Anyway, I’m gonna try to stay away from those long, verbose first items I used to be fond of, and just bring you quick-hitting bits and bobs from the week in Jazzland. Some will be serious. Some will be not so much. Mostly, I’m just trying to give you a taste of the things I’m privy to as a beat writer that you may not be. And I’ll be trying out some different things from time to time and seeing what sticks.

Enough preamble. Here’s what stuck in my eyes and ears this week …

Two Rudy G’s

The Jazz have hoarded the league’s entire supply of players named Rudy this season, with both Gobert and Gay on the team. Them both being Rudy G’s has apparently already led to occasional confusion about who’s being talked to in practices.

“I get caught off guard — a lot,” admitted Rudy Gobert. “On the French national team, we have an assistant coach called Rudy, but he’s not ‘RG’ — we’ve got two RGs. It takes time to adapt.”

Rudy Gay noted that, as the newcomer, he is destined to get a nickname to solve the situation, but said the team hadn’t fully settled on one yet, noting that “Ocho” (Spanish for “8,” his new jersey number) and “Ocho Papi” were being bandied about. New Jazz announcer Holly Rowe playfully suggested “G Papi,” and he said he was a fan.

Jordan Clarkson, however, vetoed that with a laugh: “I ain’t calling no man ‘G Papi.’”

Well then, “Fun Size Rudy” it is, I guess.

Bogey injury update

After sitting out the Jazz’s first two preseason games — partly owing to his small bit of national duty in Croatia’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to qualify for the Olympics, but mostly due to some shoulder soreness — Bojan Bogdanovic made his 2021-22 debut Monday against New Orleans. He also played in Wednesday’s preseason finale vs. Milwaukee.

Ahead of the Pelicans game, Bogey gave a self-deprecating response — something he’s very good at! — to a question about his health:

“I mean, I feel great. Obviously, I had a little shoulder problem. I’m not 100%, but overall I am doing great and I’m healthy. So it’s good for me also to play these two games to get my cardio and my game back. I know it won’t be pretty, probably, because I didn’t play for a while. But that’s why we are playing preseason games.”

ZBBC aesthetics

There’s been a lot of attention from certain segments of the fanbase about the increasing prominence of black and white color schemes around the Jazz. It’s become something of an obsession on social media — to the point that owner Ryan Smith and co-owner Dwyane Wade had to address and clarify rumors of an all-b/w uniform set on Wednesday.

That said, having been inside the ZBBC and seeing its new design, I gotta say that I like the new look. Not generally a huge fan of all black-and-white (Nets’ basic uni set is boooooooring), but the addition of all the new brick surfacing is actually a pretty nice look.

Now, if they’d just paint over that “Jake Note” script …

Video games and trash-talking

At the risk of upsetting the generation who maintain that “video games are a waste of time” … video games are a big component of Jazz players’ off-court interaction. Hassan Whiteside noted that they’re collectively into playing “Call of Duty: Warzone” lately, and that he was shocked that Mike Conley was: 1) In on it; 2) Very good at it.

In fact, if you ask Mike (which I did), he’s very, very good at it. Queried who was team’s resident top video game player, he replied: “It depends on the game. If we’re playing ‘Warzone,’ it’s probably me. They won’t tell you that, though! It’s all good. But we’ve got a full team of guys that play. That’s been our secret over the last few seasons — we play a lot of ‘Call of Duty’ off the court and stay connected always.”

Then I followed up asked him whose game needs work: “You know, I would have said Don, but he’s gotten better. He’s getting better. I don’t know if he’s put some cheats in or something.”

This, of course, stands in stark contrast to Donovan’s self-professed greatness at NBA2K (which included some digs at teammates Eric Paschall and Rudy Gay).

Donovan: “Growing up, I used to use the Raptors in 2K, playing against Eric, and I was kicking his ass! You can quote that if you want. But I used Rudy Gay every time when I was a kid. That was probably the first thing I told him [when we met]. He was like, ‘Nah, I’m not that old.’ I’m like, ‘Bro, you’re pretty old.’ That was a pretty cool moment for Eric and myself.”

Eric: “If [Don] wants to believe that — I’m not even gonna get into that. If that makes him happy to think that … He didn’t destroy me. … First thing [Rudy] said was, ‘I’m not that old!’ I was like, ‘Think about it — 10 years ago. You were 25, I was 15. You’re pretty old, Rudy!’ He always says he’s not that old, but he is.”

Looks like the Jazz have a new target for “old” jokes beyond Mike and Joe Ingles now.

Donovan in the NBA’s 75th season video

The NBA’s got a cool video out promoting the 75th season in league history, and it features a stellar collection of talent both past and present. Included among the latter is a brief cameo from Donovan, who briefly plays neighbor to “The Big O” Oscar Robertson. Donovan spoke about getting a chance to be in the video and what it meant to him.

“I’m just blessed to be part of that, to be part of that elite video or commercial, whatever you want to call it. I think just for me, to be a part of that project was incredible. Being on that set — I met Oscar Robertson for the first time, had a conversation with him. And just being able to see the greats that you’re in the commercial with, and in that project with, I think is something that’s just … you sit there as a kid [dreaming about it], and to be able to say that this is something that’s happening, it’s truly remarkable for me. I’m truly blessed.

“And it motivates you. A lot of these things that I’m a part of now, that we do as a team and by myself, it’s one of those things where it’s like, ‘I want to be them — I want to be one of the greats.’ You see Magic, you see Larry, you see Bill Walton, you see Oscar in the commercial, those are the guys — and Kobe as well, may he rest in peace — those are the guys you grew up watching or heard about. So now you’re you’re in that group, and now you got to go out there, as myself, and continue to work and continue the will to become, ultimately, one of the greats. That’s why we play this game, that’s why I play. But I’m just fortunate enough to be in that conversation and continue to build and continue to be the best player I can be.”

Haute couture Rudy

Rudy Gobert is a sneakily funny guy. He’s pretty enjoyable to interact with. My coverage partner, Andy Larsen, has already addressed what a ball the beat writers were having at practice the other day, watching Rudy string together crossover dribbles, spin moves, and 3-point jumpers.

Then, when he sauntered into the interview room after the Pelicans game wearing a fuchsia velour tracksuit, the Week in Rudy reached its absolute zenith.

Asked about the ’fit, he chose not to address the fashion, but rather its utility, simply noting, “It’s getting cold.”

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