SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder conducted a video press conference following his team’s first day of practice on Thursday, the gym door opened behind him and hit him squarely in the back of the head.
The next time he heard the creak, he was prepared.
As the door opened a second time, Snyder quickly took a step in to avoid another collision. The poetry of the moment? At that moment, he was in the middle of discussing how the Jazz will have to adapt to imperfect circumstances during their extended stay at Disney — Bojan Bogdanovic’s season-ending injury, continuing to keep social conversations going, and life in general while in the bubble. Now, he can add swinging doors during media availability as part of the list.
“That's adapting right there; not getting hit in the back of the head with the door for the second straight time,” Snyder said.
If the Jazz can figure things out that quickly in Orlando, they may just be in for a long stay at Disney.
“Everything's new,” Utah point guard Mike Conley said. “(The NBA) had to try to throw this thing together and get us on the court as safely as possible and best way as possible, so I know they're doing the best they can. … Guys are just getting used to and trying to adjust. I think this whole situation that we're in right now just goes down to who's gonna adjust quickest, and not make excuses; go out there and make do (with) what we got.”
Life is obviously different for the players. They are confined to a campus setting, have limited entertainment and food options and hopefully, they’re friends with each other — or else time could start to move real slow. Not to mention the odd schedule. They’re practicing at night and some games will be played in the early afternoon — the opposite of what they’re accustomed to.
“I can’t tell you the last time I had practice at 6 o’clock,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “It gives you that feeling of an AAU or summer camp kind of vibe and that’s not the same as an NBA season. Being able to stay focused on the goal will be one of the biggest things.”
For the first two days, the team seems pleased with how things have gone. Yes, the 36-hour quarantine while they awaited negative tests (all Jazz players were cleared) was less than ideal with players cooped up in their hotel rooms playing video games, studying film and doing whatever else they could do to pass the time. But since returning to the court on Thursday, things have felt at least a little more normal.
“It felt great to be back out there,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said after the first practice Thursday. “I felt like everyone was really locked in. Everything was really positive and just went right through it. It was a long practice, but we, you know, I think. Great job. Talking to us and make sure we get our good habits back on point and it's gonna be a process, but I really like the mindset that we had today.”
Coaches and players alike say they are happy with the team’s fitness even after the long break, and the team still knows the system. While there will be some adjustments made to make up for Bogdanovic being out, there isn’t much basic learning to be done.
The players had video chats over the break to refresh their memories, so it was a little easier when they actually all got back on the court together.
“To be able to hold on to that stuff for that long and kind of implement it and do it right away was was pretty impressive, I thought,” Joe Ingles said. “... It was nice to get out and play because that's what we obviously love to do. But I was really impressed with the kind of IQ of the guys to remember a lot of what we wanted to run after having such a big break.”