The Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden gathers insights about the Utah Jazz each week. Sign up for the newsletter here.
The Utah Jazz were the last team in the NBA to have a player in the COVID-19-related “health and safety protocol” this season — a distinction that ended when Joe Ingles tested positive on Jan. 4.
“Joe Ingles was the first player on the Utah Jazz — you can put that as your headline if it gets you more clicks,” the sarcastic Aussie declared in response during his first interview back on Wednesday morning.
Naturally, we had questions about what his experience with COVID-19 was like.
He mentioned he was asymptomatic, but was deemed a “close contact” when a family member tested positive, thus leading to him getting tested when the Jazz were playing in Denver. His test came back positive. He then got his entire family tested, and they all came back positive.
With all of them in the same boat, a medical transport back to SLC was arranged (he and Rudy Gobert, who subsequently tested positive, were both on it), and, “I actually got to spend the last however many days with my family, which was nice,” he said.
Ingles said that despite all the precautions that he and his Jazz teammates were taking, it still seemed like an inevitability that they’d face it, just given how widely the omicron variant is spreading. He noted that his hometown of Melbourne just had 51,000 positive cases in a day. Given that, he added, his family took some calculated risks.
”I’m not gonna stop my kids from going to school to limit that risk. My 5-year-olds need to go to school, Jacob needs to go to therapy. I was willing to risk that way of getting it if that was going to be the case,” he said.
Ingles himself never developed any symptoms and “felt fine the whole time,” while his wife, Renae, probably had the most within the family. Mostly, they were just worried about the kids.
”Jack, [who’s] 14 months now, he had a fever for a few days, which is a little concerning as a parent,” Joe said. “Kids have fevers all the time, but just as a dad, and Renae as a mum, you never want your kids to be sick or your children to struggle.”
They’ve all gotten the all-clear now within the past few days. Still, he acknowledged that, even with things going as well as could be expected, there were a few tense moments for him.
“If I could have [been like the movie] ‘Green Mile’ and stood there and taken the virus out of them, I would have taken it out of all four of them and taken it on myself,” he said.
This week’s podcast
It’s been the roughest week this season for the Utah Jazz. COVID finally hit the team and coaching staff. A few signings to patch up the team had to be made. Rudy Gobert is still out, thus hurting the team’s defense overall.
The Jazz have lost four games in a row. So is it time to just acknowledge that the Jazz’s only realistic shot at winning a title is to try and outscore the opponent and hope Gobert’s defense is enough?
We discuss that and more on the latest episode of The Tribune’s “How ‘Bout This Jazz” podcast.
Find the HBTJ podcast at sltrib.com/podcasts/bout_jazz/