NEW UTAH FORWARD TAKES SHOT AT FORMER TEAM
The Utah Jazz recently wrapped up media day in Salt Lake City as they gear up for the upcoming NBA season. Media day is always an anticipated time for fans as it delivers a bevy of fun basketball tidbits. Whether It be Jimmy Butler’s new hairdo in Miami, new faces in new places such as Dame time ticking in Milwaukee, or new uniforms in Phoenix, it always seems to deliver. Media day often goes beyond the surface level however as many players speak to the media for the first time in months. That can be free agent acquisitions, trade pieces or rookies facing down some of their first opportunities to get a little chippy via wordplay.
For John Collins, rocking his brand-new Utah duds, he had this very chance when it came to the Atlanta Hawks. Collins spent six seasons in hotlanta with the Hawks who drafted him in 2017, where he became a reliable scorer with rebounding ability who helped push the team to the Eastern Conference finals in 2021. For John, any success was often marred by the Hawks inability to play together as a team and constant rumors on a year-to-year basis of Collins being the centerpiece of any trade the Hawks may make. Collins was rumored to be out of Atlanta year after year, and had to keep playing through the noise. He would finish his tenure in Atlanta with averages of 15.8 PPG, 8 RPG, and 1 block per game on 55 percent shooting while going 36 percent from behind the arc.
Now that the long-rumored trade has come to pass, Collins would go on to talk joining the Jazz and the differences found in the purple mountain peaks:
“I’d say the one thing that has surprised me is the lack of ego here. It’s refreshing to have a group of guys that truly emphasize playing team basketball and that want to do so."
Listen, I am no interpreter, but its rather clear from the comment that Collins is not only excited to be here, but had some negative views on a former teammate or two in years past. Collins was often painted as under utilized in the Hawks offense by fans and media, and may have felt it to be the truth himself. Many people were quick to speculate this was in regards to Hawks star guard Trae Young, despite Collins has been verbally praiseful of Young in the past. Even so, there have been reports as far back as 2021 stating that Collins had “several issues” with Trae Young running the offense. He was fed up with how slow the offensive sets were taking to get set up, and how quickly shots were going up, per Chris Kirschner and Sam Amick. Collins at the time, wanted to be involved more himself with more ball movement to boot, suggesting the Hawks offense lacked rhythm or flow. When Kirschner and Amick asked if the meeting took place between Young and Collins he simply texted back saying “Trae is my brother regardless.”
For Jazz fans this may not sound too different than what Utah just experienced in the Donovan Mitchell-Rudy Gobert era. It can be easy to feel slighted or misused when you’ve always been one of the best to play the game throughout your life. On the playground, in High School, even in college you’ve been the guy, now you have to learn to play with others equally as talented if not more so. Whether John was referencing Trae Young, Dejounte Murray or someone else entirely, Jazz fans should be pleased to hear the egos seem to be in check for this iteration of the team. I think ego issues are more common place than typically shown in professional sports, Atlanta being no exception. That shouldn’t the most shocking part of Collins quote, Utah being ego free should be, and fans should hope that emphasis on team-oriented basketball continues as the season unfolds.
Utah opens their preseason slate October 8th against the Clippers in Hawaii.