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UTAH JAZZ: Georges Niang interview

The Utah Jazz has the best record in the NBA right now and they’re hoping to keep a 10 game winning streak going. We went in-depth with forward Georges Niang, “The Minivan” himself.


An uncorrected transcript of the conversation follows:
 

TIM: All right, Amanda, we have had great anticipation for this conversation for a few days now, with the chance to talk to and I don’t know whether he prefers power forward, small forward, but it’s George niyang of our Utah Jazz.

AMANDA: How you doing, Georges?

GEORGES: I’m doing great. How are you guys doing? Thanks for having me on.

AMANDA: Well, we’re doing better because of you and your teammates. So you just lifted this whole community with this extraordinary play, and not just the play George, but the spirit of the team is so extraordinary right now.

GEORGES: Yeah, no, we’re really playing a great basketball. And I think the best part is that we’re having a lot of fun doing it, I think we have a great group of guys that, you know, we wake up and love to go to work every day. And I think it shows what the way we play, we play really fast and do a lot of sacrifice and for each other for the greater good of the team. And that that tends to lead into us winning games. And we try not to pay too much attention to the streak that you got now that you guys mentioned it, but we’re just trying to take it one game at a time. But we’re really excited to keep it rolling, especially tomorrow night against the Mavericks,

TIM: You know, as fans and even as players, we always hear that winning takes care of everything. But there does seem to be a real joy amongst the members of this team. A lot of guys that have been here for several years. And because there were no major changes in the lineup, I mean, D Fave came back. But besides that, because there were no big changes. There were a lot of naysayers out there saying that this team wouldn’t be much more than it was last year, but it sure hasn’t worked out that way.

GEORGES: You know, that’s kind of in the the theme of this year, you know, with with Shaq’s comments about Rudy and Donovan. And I think the model that we’re just kind of living by is, you know, it’s all about us, we’re not worried about what anybody else is talking about, we’re just going to continue to come in and control a weekend control, and play, play, the way we know how to play, and the rest will figure itself out. I think, after last year, losing to Denver was really heartbreaking for us, you know, we thought we had a lot of things figured out, but I think people remember the pain, you know, of that feeling of losing it and wanting to come back and sacrifice and, and really make a run out this thing and do something special not only for ourselves, but for this community and in the fan base that is you know, given us so much joy. So, because a lot of us have been here, this is my my third year here. And it’s been an amazing experience with this organization. Yeah,

AMANDA: I imagined that it wasn’t just Donovan Mitchell who felt dissed by Shaq that the whole team felt dissed by him. Is that true?

GEORGES: Yeah, it was, it was it was tough to understand what, what, what the thought process was on that and I don’t want to knock anybody but you know, the thing is, is Donovan is a 2023 year old kid that has put so much heart and soul into this organization into the guys in the locker room into this team. And to have that moment kind of taken away from him kind of heard all of us because we had just won seven in a row. Then we had, we had won a game and come back against the pelicans where maybe last year, who knows if we would have had the willpower to win that game. And I thought it was a huge growth moment for our team and it was kind of taken away. But that being said, I think Donovan handled it with class and character and said, Okay, well, you know, it is what it is you can feel how you want to feel. But that’s where we kind of really have transitioned over and been like, you know, we really can’t control what other people are gonna say about us. We can’t force people are like us, all we can do is enjoy coming to work every day, and play our tails off. And I think that’s what we’ve been doing. Since day one.

TIM: How much of this is a coach in Quinn just letting you guys get on the floor. And if you feel like jacking up a shot, you do it. That also provides some some confidence I would imagine for you and Jordan and a lot of others.

GEORGES:It’s funny that you say that. Jordan is extremely talented player, we have a lot of extremely talented guys on our team. But Jordan just seems to be able to dribble the ball anywhere on the court and rise up and shoot. And I have a pretty confident feeling that it’s going in coach does a great job of, of giving us confidence on the offensive. And obviously he’s taught us that spots and in shots that he prefers, but there’s never a time that I’ve ever had him, you know, pull someone aside and discourage them from from taking a shot. He’s always given us confidence as long. As long as we’re playing defense. If we’re not playing defense, I don’t think he’ll allow us to shoot any shot on offense. So I think the best thing about quitting coach coin is that he’s just super relatable. You know, he understands what it’s like to be a player. He’s been a player, but I think he cares genuinely about us as humans and when you feel that as a group and as an individual player, it makes you want to run through a brick Well, to the guy that’s coaching you,

AMANDA: So I have to understand where the minivan thing.

GEORGES: Oh man, there you are funny. But uh, so it was my first year here. I think we were playing the Brooklyn Nets and I was in and out of the rotation. I think I had played earlier in the game. We ended up winning by 20. And I hadn’t gotten into the second half and I got put in, I think there was like three minutes left. And I had a chance to go down the lane and dunk it. And you know, obviously, I’m, I’m not the most athletic guy, so I just got in the game. I went up and like it was kind of a dunk kind of a layup. Like I barely got up there. It looked like it looked like it hurt, right. So I get back to the locker room. Everyone was like, man, like, George, what the heck was that? And I was like, Listen, guys, I’m not a Ferrari. Like you guys. I need a couple laps around the block to get to full speed like a minivan. Ever since. Someone someone got a hold of the story, and that’s that name is stuck ever since.

AMANDA: So where do I get the minivan t-shirt?

GEORGES: Oh, Amanda, you we can send you one but for anyone that’s wondering. You just go to georgesniang.com. And you can get them we’re having a restock. We’re actually coming up with some hoodies. So if you guys want to stay warm in the wintertime out here in Utah, where to a game if you can err on the slopes, or just downtown. That’s the website to go to George nienke calm. All right, fantastic. 

TIM: We have a couple of quick questions for you.

AMANDA: Oh, okay, George. Just quick questions. Quick answers.

TIM: Let me ask this one and I think I already know the answer. And maybe I should rephrase it. Who’s the biggest talker on the team after Joe Ingles.

GEORGES: Come on. I thought it was a quick answer is joining us is going to be an easy that’s a good one. I might have to say me for? Yeah, I’d have to give myself that I’m a little chatty Cathy. So I’d ask to give myself that one or Jarrell Brantley people. Jarrell Brantley can do some talking too.

AMANDA: OK I love that you own that. All right. Number two, who’s the player who calls his mother the most?

GEORGES: Donovan Mitchell 100%. Close. Okay, go ahead.

TIM: What’s the first song on your pregame playlist because we understand that’s therapy for you.

GEORGES: Oh, my girl, Michelle Branch, just breathe.

AMANDA Alright, and the last one who would win an arm-wrestling competition on the team.

GEORGES: I would put money on Derrick Favors. He may be quiet and you know, nice, but he’s got a mean streak to him. So I would definitely pick their favorites.

TIM: I love it. I love it. Boy, we appreciate your time. Keep things rolling buddy it really has given this community, something to think of other than the pandemic and it’s been a lot of fun.

AMANDA: We appreciate you Georges.

GEORGES: Thank you guys for having me Come on. And thank you for the continued support. We all really appreciate it. We love

TIM: GO JAZZ!

 

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