SALT LAKE CITY -- The Jazz practiced Friday for the last time before leaving for London Saturday and everybody was excited for this unusual business trip.
CJ Miles said, "I can't wait, the only time I've ever been out of the country was to Toronto and that's not really out of the country. I'm looking forward to seeing the sights and enjoying London and Madrid."
Andrei Kirilenko is the team's unofficial tour guide since he's very familiar with London. AK's planning on going to see his favorite ‘football' team Chelsea play Saturday night after the team arrives.
Carlos Boozer shrugged off thoughts about the possible questions he'll face prior to Tuesday's preseason game with Chicago about his public flirting with the Bulls over the summer. Boozer's hoping to catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, among other possible sight-seeing stops.
Deron Williams spent a few whirlwind days in London this summer and acknowledges this return there will stir thoughts of his next Olympic date... London 2012.
The Jazz play the Chicago Bulls Tuesday 12:30 p.m. MT (NBA TV only) in London's O2 Arena then the team flies to Madrid to meet the Euro League's Real Madrid (featuring for BYU Star Travis Hansen) Thursday 12:45 pm MT (NBA TV only) and all the players understand the mood in that meeting will be much more intense than Tuesday's game with the Bulls.
"We beat Spain in the Gold Medal game back in Beijing 2008 so I expect the Spanish players and fans will be extra juiced to try and pay us back," Boozer said.
Head coach Jerry Sloan sees this as strictly business trip although he says his wife Tammi will take in as much of the culture, history and sights as she can over the six-day trip. Sloan's more concerned with continuing to prepare the Jazz for the upcoming season.
In the same vein, Strength and Conditioning coach Mark McKown is concerned the trip will set the players back a week of conditioning.
"Not much we can do over there, just play and enjoy it but it's tough on me since I can't work them out like we do back here," McKown said.
The trip also gives the team two more games to push their commitment to defense. That is the overwhelming emphasis this preseason.
"Instead of saying, ‘JAZZ!' coming out of all our timeouts we're saying ‘DEFENSE!' this year," said CJ Miles.
Kirilenko adds, "We're watching film of our defense now and we've never done that before in training camp."
Once they return to Utah the Jazz will play four more preseason game before opening the season at Denver Wednesday October 28.